Police: Militants kill 3 officers in restive NW Pakistan

This is a locator map for Pakistan with its capital, Islamabad, and the Kashmir region. (AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Militants shot and killed three police officers on the outskirts of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, authorities said, the latest violence in the restive northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.

Senior superintendent of operations Kashif Aftab Abbasi said the three officers died as they chased militants who had earlier attacked a police station with hand grenades, sniper guns and automatic weapons in Sarband, near Peshawar.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group, or TTP, on Saturday claimed responsibility for the police station attack a day earlier and for killing the officers.

The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan over the past 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.

They also claimed responsibility for an attack Friday at a police checkpoint in Punjab’s Taunsa district that killed two officers.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the central government was deeply concerned about deteriorating law and order in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is located.

He criticized local authorities for failing to learn from previous assaults, including a militant takeover and hostage situation at a counter-terror department in Bannu district.

“Terrorists are attacking police stations, policemen and officers are being targeted,” said Khan. “It seems that the provincial government has not learned any lesson even from Bannu CTD headquarters,” he said, referring to the counter-terror department that was seized by militants.

He said the local chief minister's priority was politics not peace and, with even local police not safe from attacks, he asked what would happen to the safety of ordinary people.

The TTP has stepped up attacks on security forces after unilaterally ending a cease-fire with the Pakistani government in November.

The group is separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban.