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Pakistani Taliban announces 1-month cease-fire

PAKISTAN-UNREST-NORTHWEST-PROTEST

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - The Pakistani Taliban announced Saturday that the group will observe a one-month cease-fire as part of efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the government, throwing new life into a foundering peace process.

Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement emailed to reporters that the top leadership of the militant group has instructed all of its units to comply with the cease-fire.

"Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has initiated talks with the government with sincerity and for good purpose," Shahid said, referring to the group by its formal name.

The leader of the government's negotiating team, Irfan Sadiqui, praised the cease-fire announcement while speaking on Pakistan's Geo Television, saying the government will review any written document from the Taliban about it.

"Today, we are seeing a big breakthrough," Sadiqui said.

The announcement comes as Pakistan jets and helicopters struck militant hideouts in the northwest in recent weeks after previous efforts at negotiations broke down when a militant faction announced it had killed 23 Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani Taliban has been trying to overthrow the government and establish its own hard-line form of Islam across Pakistan for years. Tens of thousands of people have died in militant attacks.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif long has promoted negotiations over military operations as a way to end the ongoing crisis. His efforts gained speed this year when both sides announced negotiating teams held initial meetings. But after the deaths of the 23 Pakistani troops, the negotiations fell apart.

However, violence earlier Saturday showed how difficult it could be for the Taliban enforce a cease-fire, let alone for the two sides to forge a peace agreement.

Two bombs exploded minutes apart in northwest Pakistan, striking tribal police assigned to guard polio workers and killing 11, police said.

Police official Nawabzada Khan said the first of the two bombs struck an escort vehicle in the Lashora village of Jamrud tribal region in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It wounded six officers, but caused no deaths, he said.

Minutes later, another roadside bomb struck a convoy of tribal police officers dispatched there to transport victims of the first attack, killing 11 officers and wounding six, Khan said. A government administrator, Nasir Khan, confirmed the death toll and said they had launched a massive hunt to arrest the attackers.

No one claimed responsibility for the two separate bombings, but anti-polio teams and their guards have been frequently targeted in Pakistan by Islamic militants. They say the campaigns are a tool for spying and claim the vaccine makes boys sterile.

Pakistan is one of the few remaining countries where polio persists. In most cases the disease is found in the northwest, where militants make it difficult to reach children for vaccination.

Also Saturday, a bomb targeting security forces in the southwestern province of Baluchistan killed three soldiers and wounded six, the paramilitary Frontier Corps said.

In a statement, it said the soldiers were traveling through the border village of Washuk when a bomb hit their vehicle.

Washuk lies 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, where separatists have been fighting a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani government for decades.

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BUDDY March 01 2014 at 11:32 AM

Cowards! They hit soft targets and innocent people indiscriminately. There is no negotiation with these people. They don't know the meaning of the word.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
Thomas March 01 2014 at 10:38 AM

Trust ?, or Trial ?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Tom March 01 2014 at 11:19 AM

The Taliban now has the time to recruit more fighters and secure more weapons. This is just a ploy. Never trust a taliban.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
Doug Tom March 01 2014 at 11:40 AM

Theoretically, the Taliban has no room for discussion; they demand nothing less than a Sharia-dominated Pakistan, and death to Sunnis.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
consult236 March 01 2014 at 10:29 AM

Sounds like the TET truce that ended Vietnam actions

Flag Reply +3 rate up
tropicalriderceo March 01 2014 at 10:26 AM

what nonsense, there will never be peace in those areas whether we are in them or not.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
ashumate3 March 01 2014 at 11:12 AM

Let me translate what the Taliban are really saying - "We're running out of money, ammo and people to die for our cause and therefore we need time to regroup."

Flag Reply +16 rate up
1 reply
jvinylman502 ashumate3 March 01 2014 at 11:16 AM

Exactly ! They want more time to stock up and murder some more.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
coldh2oranch March 01 2014 at 10:20 AM

Tribal warfare going on for over 3000 years...Drones can solve the problem without American deaths.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
wuffo1 March 01 2014 at 10:19 AM

Taliban,

More than 100 million American children were vaccinated against polio beginning in the 1950s. I was one of them. Most of us are grandparents now.

Do yourselves and the people you care about a favor and recognize the fact that the people vaccinating the children in the villages that you control are there to save their health and lives.

I sincerely hope that someone reads this who speaks your language can translate it for you.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
HELLO JIM March 01 2014 at 10:14 AM

That should give them enough time to secure ther bases without being bothered by US DRONES

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rdclaw2000 March 01 2014 at 11:43 AM

Their number are way down, we killed millions of them and as the devote more resources to fight a losing war their recruitment has lagged. 30 days is a lot of time to regroup and they will no doubt go for extensions, look at our first 30 then 60 leading to the first Gulf War! Question is will Pakistan and the USA take the time to gather intel and pool together a better road map for when the fighting starts back up.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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