Suicide bomber kills nine in Pakistan

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iol pic wld_PAKISTAN-ATTACKS-_0314_11 REUTERS Firefighters extinguish a fire on burning vehicles, as security officials and rescue workers collect evidence at the site of a bomb attack in Quetta. Picture: Naseer Ahmed

Peshawar, Pakistan - A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a police vehicle in Pakistan's volatile city of Peshawar on Friday, killing at least nine bystanders, including a woman and a child, police said.

The attack took place as the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tries to engage Pakistani Taliban militants in talks to hammer out a permanent ceasefire agreement and end years of violence.

A series of attacks and counter-attacks by insurgents and government forces has dampened expectations that peace talks could ever yield any result.

In Peshawar, police chief Faisal Kamran said the target of the attack was an armoured personnel carrier.

“The police were deployed in the armoured personnel carrier to provide security during Friday prayers outside mosques when it came under attack,” he said. “The policemen luckily remained safe but innocent people were killed and injured.”

Jamil Shah, a spokesman for the city's biggest hospital, said at least 30 were injured. Another blast on Friday in the city of Quetta killed at least five people, but there were no immediate details, Pakistani television reported.

No one claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks. The Taliban leadership, which seems keen to hold the talks, has condemned previous attacks, distancing itself from the violence.

This has spurred speculation that the central command was not in control of the many splinter groups operating in the country, and reaching a peace deal with one of them would not stop the violence. - Reuters

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