Death toll from blasts in Pakistan ammunition store rises to 17 – police

By Jibran Ahmed

KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) -The death toll from Monday’s blasts in a police ammunition depot in northwestern Pakistan has risen to 17, police said.

The dead include nine policemen, five detainees and three civilians, Swat valley police chief Shafiullah Gandapur said on Tuesday. More than 50 people were injured and several buildings in the vicinity collapsed.

Gandapur told Reuters that experts had visited the spot but did not find any evidence of a militant attack. Another police officer had said after the blasts that ammunition caught fire, likely from an electrical short circuit.

Swat was previously long controlled by Islamist militants before they were flushed out in a military operation in 2009.

Pakistani police and military have a significant presence in the valley.

Pakistan has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist militants in the last few months, particularly since negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban, an Islamist militant group, broke down last year.

Earlier this month, Pakistan announced a new nationwide operation to root out militancy.

(Reporting by Jibran Ahmed, writing by Ariba Shahid in Karachi; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Raju Gopalakrishnan)