Pakistan bombs kill at least 17 in latest challenge to Taliban peace talks

A Pakistani security officer is pictured amid bodies and wreckage at the scene of a bomb blast in Quetta, March 14, 2014. Getty

ISLAMABAD -- Two separate terrorist attacks in cities near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan left at least 17 people dead Friday, as militants appeared to step up their attacks across the nuclear-armed south Asian nation.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in Peshawar and Quetta, but Pakistani security officials said they were likely carried out the Taliban or other militant groups loyal to their cause.

The first attack just outside the northern city of Peshawar saw a suicide bomber blow himself up near a police armored vehicle. At least seven people were killed and more than 40 more injured.

The second attack took place in the southwest city of Quetta, where a bomb attached to a bicycle blew up near a college. At least ten people were killed and another 20 injured.

"Both attacks bear the typical imprint of the Taliban," a Pakistani intelligence official in Islamabad told CBS News.

The bomb blasts came as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif continued to press ahead with controversial peace negotiations with the Taliban -- something he promised to do on the campaign trail.

Though the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has publicly committed to a ceasefire with the government, attacks have continued, raising two alarming possibilities. Pakistani security officials say either the TTP does not have control over all of the 60 militant groups known to operate under its mandate, or it is actively trying to deceive both the government and the public by claiming the ceasefire while continuing to launch attacks.

Regardless, the violence and the public backlash and demand for answers over it have exposed other troubling dimensions of Pakistan's security apparatus.

While announcing a new national security policy recently, Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan confirmed for the first time that the country has 26 different intelligence agencies which operate independently of each other, without coordinating their efforts. Khan's comments unleashed fresh criticism from independent analysts who argue Pakistan needs to redouble its efforts and prepare for a potentially long and bloody fight with the TTP.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistani defense and security analyst, told CBS News after Friday's attacks that Sharif's handling of security issues "has become increasingly controversial. He wants to negotiate with the Taliban and bring peace. But it seems increasingly that they want to keep on fighting."

Rizvi said Sharif needs to prepare himself, and his country, for a focused fight to defeat the Taliban.

Friday's attacks, meanwhile, were likely to further dampen public sympathy for the Taliban -- and possibly support for Sharif's peace initiative with the militants.

"They (Taliban) want to kill innocent Pakistanis," Islamabad office clerk Umar Kayani told CBS News on Friday. "The Taliban problem will finish only if the government finishes the Taliban."

  • Farhan Bokhari

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