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Peace talks resume in Pakistan amid more violence

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- As government mediators tentatively restarted peace talks with Pakistani Taliban representatives Wednesday, a roadside bomb struck a convoy of paramilitary forces in the country’s tribal region, killing six security personnel and wounding eight others.

Pakistani security officials said that the convoy of the paramilitary Frontier Corps was traveling to Kurram Agency, a tribal area adjacent to the Afghan border.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, the latest violent incident to undermine Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to open peace talks with the outlawed Pakistani Taliban. The militant group has been waging an insurgency aimed at toppling the secular government.

The Pakistani Taliban has said it would observe a cease-fire, but factions that oppose the peace talks have continued to target the government, military and civilians.

On Monday, militants belonging to a Taliban splinter group stormed a district court complex in Islamabad, the capital, killing 11 people.

The Pakistani Taliban condemned that attack.

The following day, gunmen killed two truck drivers in the Khyber Agency tribal area near the city of Peshawar. The drivers were transporting supplies to the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan, officials said.

Despite the violence, negotiation teams representing the government and the insurgents broke a two-week deadlock and met at a seminary in Nowshera, about 30 miles east of Peshawar. The government had suspended talks after a militant faction claimed responsibility for killing 23 paramilitary soldiers in the Mohmand tribal area on Feb. 17.

Maulana Sami ul-Haq, a religious scholar whom the insurgents nominated to lead their negotiating team, told journalists after the meeting that he had asked the militants to track down those responsible for the recent violence.

Irfan Siddiqui, leader of the government negotiating team, described Wednesday’s meeting as positive, but he offered few details.

Officials said that representatives of the two negotiating teams would meet Thursday in Islamabad with Prime Minister Sharif to update him on the status of the talks.

Ali is a Times special correspondent. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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