Taliban Denies Cease-Fire, Talks with Pakistan

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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The Pakistani Taliban says it has not declared a cease-fire or entered into peace talks with the government, as it claims responsibility for a deadly attack on a police station.

A dozen militants carried out the assault Wednesday in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, using grenades and guns to kill two police officers and wound four others.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman denied the cease-fire reports shortly after the attack.

Pakistan's army and interior minister had earlier issued their own denials.

An army spokesman said Tuesday the reports are “concocted, baseless and unfounded.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Quetta that the militant group would have to rid itself of weapons before any negotiations could begin.

The Associated Press had reported that a senior Taliban commander said Monday the group had declared a cease-fire to encourage new peace talks.

A top Taliban commander also told news agencies Monday that Pakistani officials and the militant group were in preliminary negotiations to explore ways to promote the peace process.

The commander said the talks focused on the South Waziristan tribal region along the Afghan border. He said the Taliban is making demands including the release of prisoners.

The government has reached previous peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban, but they have largely fallen apart. Critics have said the deals allow the militants to regroup and rebuild their strength in order to resume fighting the government and foreign troops in Afghanistan.

It is not clear if the Pakistani Taliban are united enough to strike a lasting deal.

Pakistan has come under pressure to eradicate militancy since U.S. special forces in May killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town where he had apparently been living for years.