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World Taliban gunmen, suicide bomber attack security checkpoint, hospital in Pakistan

At least nine people were killed and at least 30 others wounded Sunday in Taliban attacks on a security checkpoint and a hospital in northwestern Pakistan, breaking a lull in militant violence in the country, officials said.

A spokesman for the Taliban said the attacks — by gunmen on motorbikes and a suicide bomber — had been carried out to avenge the killing of one of its militants last month in the district of Dera Ismail Khan. A senior police official said the suicide attacker had been female, but the Taliban later released a photograph of a long-haired man whom the group identified as the bomber.

The two-pronged attack on Sunday took place in the same district, Dera Ismail Khan, which is in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the first attack, two police officers at a security checkpoint in the town of Kotla Saidan were shot dead.

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The assailants escaped after the shooting, and the security forces cordoned off the area to search for them.

Shortly after the bodies of the two officers were taken to the hospital, an explosion ripped through the emergency and trauma centre there, killing four other police officers and three civilians. The suicide bomber detonated about seven kilograms of explosives near an entrance to the hospital, according to a preliminary police investigation.

The blast heavily damaged the entrance of the hospital, and the emergency department shut down afterward. Those injured in the second attack were shifted to a military hospital in the district.

Militant violence has ravaged Pakistan for years, especially in the northwestern regions, where the Taliban have a strong presence, but the attacks have declined in recent years. Sporadic violence still takes place, however.

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