DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – A Taliban militant and his wife carried out a suicide bombing on a police station in Pakistan on Saturday that killed 12 policemen, a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.
The pair, armed with assault rifles and hand grenades, raided the compound and took a dozen policemen hostage for several hours in a town near the region of South Waziristan, a major al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary on the Afghan border.
The operation further tarnished Pakistan’s security establishment, which has suffered one setback after another since the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces on Pakistani soil on May 2.
The Taliban rarely use women suicide bombers. The attack on the police station suggests they are adopting new tactics in a campaign to topple the U.S.-backed government.
The Taliban husband and wife team shot dead five policemen and later blew themselves up after being attacked by commandos, killing seven more policemen who died of their wounds overnight, police said.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman, said the assault was carried out in retaliation for bin Laden’s killing and government attacks against militants.
“The attackers were a husband and wife. We will keep carrying out attacks with different strategies,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
On Sunday, a bomb planted on a stationary motorcycle just outside a police station in the eastern city of Multan wounded four policemen, police said.
The Pakistani Taliban movement, which is close to al Qaeda, has stepped up violence in Pakistan since the death of bin Laden, in operations that have embarrassed the military.
The group said it was behind an assault on a major navy base in the city of Karachi last month. The Taliban killed nearly 100 people in a suicide bombing at a paramilitary compound.
Large groups of Pakistani Taliban fighters have also staged large-scale shooting attacks on security forces in other parts of the northwest.
The United States has been piling pressure on Pakistan to crack down harder on militancy since it was discovered that bin Laden may have been living in Pakistan for years.
More Pakistani cooperation is needed as Washington seeks to wind down the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda and its allies.
But Pakistan’s generals are furious because the United States kept them in the dark over the bin Laden raid.
(Additional reporting by Mustansar Baluch; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Michael Georgy and Sugita Katyal)
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