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KARACHI — A suicide bomber smashed a truck packed with explosives into housing for a paramilitary force protecting Pakistan’s largest city Thursday, killing three officers in the explosion that sent a large plume of smoke into the sky, officials said.

The blast underlined deteriorating security in Karachi, the sprawling port city of 18 million people that is considered the economic heart of Pakistan. Violence has escalated in recent years in the city, as armed groups fight for control of land and resources, and terrorists groups, including the Taliban, have used the chaos to consolidate their foothold.

Three security personnel were killed and 20 were wounded in Thursday’s attack, said a spokesman for the Rangers, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Rangers are a paramilitary force that is tasked with helping Karachi police maintain security in the city.

The spokesman said the blast would not deter the Rangers from pursuing operations against militants in the city.

Sri Lanka

Elections promised in former war zone

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s president promised Thursday to hold provincial council elections next year in the island nation’s former northern war zone.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s pledge comes amid international criticism that he has failed to devolve power to the northern region since the nation’s quarter-century civil war ended in 2009. The majority of the region’s population are minority ethnic Tamils.

While presenting the government’s annual budget in parliament Thursday, Mr. Rajapaksa said the government remained “firmly committed to conduct [northern] provincial council elections next year, to facilitate democratic representation to promote peace and development.”

The war ended after government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting to create an independent Tamil state in the country’s north and east.


Britain talks trade, terrorism and defense

NEW DELHI — British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with top officials in the Indian capital Thursday to discuss ways to increase trade and investment and to tackle other issues, including terrorism, cybersecurity and defense.

“We discussed a lot of trade investment cooperation — international, bilateral, multilateral — and I think that’s how we see our relationship” in the future, Indian Foreign Minister Salma Khurshid told reporters after meeting with Mr. Hague.

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