A roadside bomb killed a Pakistani general and another officer on Sunday near the border with Afghanistan,the Pakistani army said. These are rare high-ranking casualties in Pakistans war against militants.
Major General Sanaullah Khan,along with a lieutenant colonel and another soldier were killed in the Upper Dir district after visiting an outpost near the border,the army said.
Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the bombing,which Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said would not affect the fight against militants.
Pakistan army has made substantial sacrifices to protect the nation against the menace of terrorism and such cowardly acts by terrorists cannot deter the morale of our armed forces, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.
The attack comes after weeks of discussions within Sharifs government about whether to pursue peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban,who are separate from Afghanistans Taliban but allied with them.
Last week,all major political parties held a conference on the issue and agreed that talks should be pursued.
However,it is not clear when talks might begin,who might take part or if they would be held under any conditions.
The killing of Khan and the other two would likely make it more difficult for the government to enter negotiations.
The Pakistani Taliban,an umbrella group of different factions,have said they will have their own meeting to decide whether to negotiate with the government.
Analysts say that it might be difficult for them to reach an agreement.
The Taliban said last year that they would only consider talks if the government imposed strict Islamic law and went to war with old enemy India.
But Sharifs government,which came to power this year,has made improving ties with neighbouring India a priority.
Whatever the Taliban demand,the killing of a major general and other officers will now make it more difficult for the government to pursue talks with the militants.
Pak Taliban set pre-conditions for peace talks
Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban Sunday demanded the release of over 4,500 prisoners and withdrawal of the army from tribal regions as pre-conditions to enter into formal peace talks with the government to end years of violence that has claimed thousands of lives.
First of all,troops in the entire tribal area should go back to barracks and then our prisoners should be released, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said.
The Pakistan government must take steps which can develop an atmosphere of trust and can remove doubts and suspicion. We cannot move forward unless the governments accepts these two demands, Shahid said. pti
Best of Express