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Jul 26, 12:45 PM EDT

Gunmen kill 2 army soldiers in southern Pakistan

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AP Photo/Shakil Adil

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- Unidentified gunmen killed two army soldiers in a hit-and-run attack in the southern port city of Karachi on Tuesday, police said.

Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism police officer, said two gunmen apparently escaped on a motorbike after firing several shots at the moving military vehicle in Karachi's busy Saddar district.

Dr. Seemi Jamali at Jinnah Hospital says multiple bullets hit both the soldiers in the shoulder, neck and head. She says one victim expired before reaching the hospital while the other died during treatment.

Jamaatul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of main Pakistani Taliban group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahsanullah Ahsan, the faction's spokesman, told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location that two militants from the group carried out the attack and fled successfully. He said such attacks will continue against the security forces to avenge the hanging of "holy warriors."

Paramilitary rangers are engaged in an ongoing intelligence-based operation against militants in the city. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "cowardly" attack on military men and termed it an attempt to distract authorities' attention from the Karachi operation. He said "terrorists" will not be spared at any cost and the Karachi operation will continue until the militant threat is eliminated.

Pakistan lifted a 2008 moratorium on the death penalty following a late-2014 attack on a Peshawar school that killed over 150, mostly children. Since then, the country has hanged nearly 400 condemned prisoners, including dozens of Islamic militants.

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