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Five policemen killed in Pakistan car bomb attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Taliban bomber rammed his car into a police checkpost in Pakistan’s northwest Wednesday, killing five policemen, in an attack a militant spokesman said was revenge for military offensives.

The blast on the outskirts of the main northwestern city of Peshawar is the latest in a string of attacks mounted by the militants.

“The policemen were on their routine duty when the bomber driving the car from the tribal area detonated explosives near the checkpost,” police official Najmul Hasan told Reuters.

“Five people have been killed and eight wounded. All of them are policemen.”

Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali said the attacker was apparently trying to make his way into the city but decided to set off his explosives when he was stopped.

Peshawar is close to the Mohmand and Khyber regions, part of the semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun tribal lands along the Afghan border which have become a global Islamist militant hub.

The security forces have launched major offensives in the northwest over the past year, clearing out some insurgent strongholds.

But the militants have shown resilience and carried out a wave of suicide and bomb attacks across the country, mainly in the northwest, killing hundreds of people.

A Taliban spokesman called Reuters by telephone and claimed responsibility for the attack.

“It’s a reaction to the operations carried out by the army from Khyber to Waziristan,” the spokesman Azam Tariq said, referring to South Waziristan, a militant bastion where the military launched a major offensive in October.

“More attacks will be coming,” he said.

Separately, two teachers were kidnapped by suspected militants in Mohmand Wednesday, hours after four members of a government-backed militia were killed and another abducted in a clash in the same region, officials said.

Amir Haider Khan Hoti, chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which used to be known as North West Frontier Province, said the government was determined to weed out militancy, but it would take time.

“This menace will end one day but not in a single day,” he told reporters in Peshawar after funeral prayers for the policemen killed in the blast.

“It will take at least two to three years to eliminate this menace.”

Additional reporting Alamgir Bitani; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Sanjeev Miglani