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Hard-Line Islamic Clerics Urge Pakistan Government, Taliban To Talk

Pakistani merchants gather beside their damaged shops in Peshawar on September 30, the day after a bomb blast.
ISLAMABAD -- An association of hard-line Islamic clerics running Sunni religious schools in Pakistan has called on the government and the Taliban to start peace talks.

In a statement issued on October 1, the Wifaqul Madaris (Association of Islamic Schools) called the confrontation between the government and the Taliban a "civil war-like situation." It called on both sides to observe a "complete cease-fire" until peace talks end.

The body expressed its readiness to mediate such talks.

The statement came a day after a car-bomb attack in Pakistan's restive northwest killed at least 42 people. A week before that, more than 80 Christians were killed in a double suicide bomb attack on a church in the city of Peshawar.

A faction of Pakistan's umbrella Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack.

With reporting by