The army said the militants killed in the raid were involved in previous attacks on security forces, without giving details. Such raids, mostly against the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are routine in the northwest of the country.
Also on Friday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said he had invited his predecessor and now opposition leader, Imran Khan, to talk next week about how the country should respond to the wave of violence.
Sharif’s government has blamed the TTP for Monday’s Peshawar bombing, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the mosque at the police station. Most of the victims were police officers. The bomber was wearing a police uniform and guards on the scene assumed he was a police officer – their colleague – and did not search him, authorities said.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but are allies of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their withdrawal. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up their attacks since November, when they ended a ceasefire with the government.
There was no immediate response to Sharif’s invitation to talks from Khan, who was ousted in a no-conference vote in parliament last April.
During his tenure, Khan had approved peace talks with TTP and even released some members of the group held in Pakistani prisons as a gesture of goodwill. The talks, organized by the Afghan Taliban, broke down in November.
On Friday, more than 2,000 supporters of Khan’s opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf gathered in Peshawar to denounce the wave of violence and demand peace. Similar meetings were also held elsewhere, organized by civil society groups.
Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan contributed to this story.