Ambush, army raid leave 6 police, 2 troops dead in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Armed militants on Wednesday ambushed a routine police patrol in northwestern Pakistan, killing all six policemen in the vehicle, while a shootout with gunmen elsewhere in the volatile region killed two soldiers, officials said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the ambush in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan and has seen frequent attacks on security forces. The militant group — formally known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP — is separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban.

The attackers who ambushed the police in the Dadewala area of the Lakki Marwat district escaped on motorcycles, according to police officer Rab Nawaz Khan. He said an investigation was underway.

A TTP spokesman, Mohammad Khurasani, said the police patrol was ambushed while on the way to carry out a raid in the area. The militants snatched police weapons before fleeing the scene, he said.

Also in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, two soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants. The gunbattle erupted during an overnight raid in the Hilal Khel area in Bajur. A militant was also killed, according to a military statement.

The military said troops seized arms and ammunition from the militant killed in the raid. The army said he had been involved in past attacks on security forces.

Several militants are believed to have fled the scene of the shootout.

The Pakistani Taliban have for years operated in northwestern Pakistan, once a haven for militants from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan more than a year ago has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban have encouraged Islamabad and the TTP to reach a peace agreement through dialogue and Kabul has facilitated talks between the two sides. So far, those negotiations have yielded no results, though a cease-fire has been in place since May.

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