Pakistani Taliban offer peace talks

Islamabad, Jan 19: Pakistani Taliban Sunday gave their nod for peace talks with the government shortly after their suicide bomber killed 22 soldiers and injured 30 others in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement that a bomber used an explosives-laden vehicle to target the security forces in Bannu’s army area and killed dozens of soldiers.

Pakistani soldiers later shelled suspected hideouts of the militants and killed several people in Mir Ali area in North Waziristan, Xinhua reported.

The Taliban spokesman said they carried out the attack to take revenge for the killing of their leaders.

“Our stance about the dialogue is very clear. If the government proves its powers and sincerity, we are ready for meaningful talks despite our great losses,” said the TTP spokesman.

He claimed that Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud were killed “under the pretext of the dialogue”.

Both the leaders were killed in US drone strikes in North Waziristan but the Taliban had announced revenge against the Pakistani forces.

“We are of the view that the government has no powers and sincerity in the talks, otherwise our senior leaders would not have been killed after the peace dialogue offer,” the Taliban spokesman added.

IANS