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A raid by Pakistani forces near the Afghan border killed two militants


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A daring mission by the troops saw them raid a militant hideout on Friday in a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border, a statement from the military said, culminating in a shootout that left two militants dead.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has summoned the country’s opposition leader to formulate a response to the recent upsurge in violence, including the bombing of a mosque that killed 101 people.

The army said in a statement that on Friday, troops found a cache of weapons in a militant hideout in North Waziristan, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It added that the gunmen who were killed during the raid had participated in previous attacks on security forces. The statement did not provide further details and the identity of the dead militants was not immediately known.

Forces routinely conduct such raids to track down and arrest the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The Pakistani Taliban is a separate group but an ally of the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan a year ago while US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their withdrawal. The Taliban’s control in Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up their attacks since November when they ended their ceasefire with the government.

The latest development comes days after a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in a police compound in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 101 people. The authorities say the bomber was wearing a police uniform and the guards at the scene assumed he was a police officer – their colleague – and did not search him.

On Friday, Sharif said in a televised address that he had invited his predecessor, now opposition leader Imran Khan, and other officials to a conference on Tuesday to discuss next steps. There was no immediate response from Khan, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament in April last year.

Sharif said that Monday’s attack inside the mosque was carried out by a suicide bomber, and that there is no truth in the allegations and claims that it was a drone attack.

Pakistan blames the Pakistani Taliban, which maintains sanctuaries in Afghanistan, for masterminding the bombing, which left 225 injured. Police say most of the injuries were not caused by an explosive device being detonated, but by the collapse of the roof of the 50-year-old Peshawar mosque. The force of the blast caused the collapse of the roof, which was supported by external walls but without columns.

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