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pakistan: Militants attack police office and army post in northwest Pakistan. 2 policemen, 3 attackers

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Militants staged attacks on a regional police headquarters and an army post in a former Taliban stronghold in northwest Pakistan before dawn Friday, triggering firefights that killed two police officers and three insurgents, security officials said.

The attack in the town of Tank in Dera Ismail Khan came three days after a suicide bomber in the same region rammed his car into a police station’s main gate and five others opened fire, killing 23 officers in this year’s worst attack on troops.

Local police chief Iftikhar Shah said two police officers were “martyred” and three others were wounded in Friday’s attack on the police headquarters, while two of the attackers died. He said a third militant was killed by soldiers during the assault on a nearby army post.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion was likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.

The group is separate from Afghanistan’s Taliban though it is allied with the Afghan movement, which seized power in the neighboring country in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of withdrdawing after 20 years of war.

The car bombing on Tuesday was claimed by the newly formed militant Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistani group, which is believed to be an offshoot of the TTP.Pakistan has witnessed a surge in attacks since last year, when TTP ended a ceasefire.The deadliest was last January when 101 people were killed, mostly police officers, when a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman attacked a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The increasing militant violence has further strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration. Pakistan often accuses the Taliban of hosting TTP leaders on Afghan territory, from where they launch their attacks.

Pakistan this week summoned a Taliban-appointed representative from Kabul to protest Tuesday’s bombing. Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attack and promised to investigate.

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