16 killed, gas lines blown in Pakistan as violence surges

Sixteen people were killed and major gas pipelines were blown up in a new wave of attacks across Pakistan as the government and Islamist militants prepared to hold another round of peace talks.

At least four women were killed in Peshawar city in the north west when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside their house, police official Ihsan Shah said.

The attacker was reportedly aiming to detonate the explosives at a funeral service but entered the house after he was spotted and challenged by the police.

Also in the north-west, three school teachers were shot dead Monday by gunmen in Hangu district, an area plagued by years of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, local police chief Iftikhar Ahmed said.

One woman died in explosions when separatists from south-western Pakistan blew up three major gas pipelines, cutting supplies to millions of domestic and industrial consumers.

The rebels bombed the pipelines Sunday night in Rahim Yar Khan district in Punjab province.

Repairs would take at least a couple of days, said Arif Hameed Khan, chief of one of the two state-run power distribution companies.

Also overnight, gunmen on motorbikes hurled a grenade and shot at people gathered inside the house of a faith healer in the southern city of Karachi, killing eight people including an 8-year-old girl.

Police official Haseeb Khan said more than a dozen people were injured in the attack, the second in the city against the followers of Sufi Islam, a school of thought opposed by Taliban hardliners.

The attacks occurred amid reports that negotiators from the government and Pakistani Taliban would hold another meeting on Tuesday to carry forward peace talks they opened last week.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month invited militants for talks for a negotiated settlement of a decade-old conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives. – Sapa-dpa

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