Taliban Claim Responsibility For Kashmir Attack

27 June 2009
Agence France-Presse

Peshawar: The Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for the first suicide attack in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, as officials said 17 suspected militants were killed in government operations. A spokesman for the insurgents said the blast Friday, which hit an army vehicle killing two soldiers, was in retaliation for military operations against the militants in the northwest. 'We claim responsibility for this attack. This was done in a revenge for Waziristan operation and air strikes,' Hakimullah Mehsud, a spokesman for Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud told AFP by telephone from an unknown location. 'We warn the government to stop the operation and air strikes in Waziristan otherwise we will continue such attacks in all over Pakistan,' he said. The blast took place in Muzaffarabad, capital of the Pakistani part of the divided Himalayan region. Officials said the suicide attacker was a Taliban rebel from the northwestern tribal zone of Waziristan. 'The suicide bomber has been identified as Abid. He belonged to Taliban group in Waziristan,' Raja Kafeel, a spokesman for the Prime Minister of Pakistani administered-Kashmir told AFP. Seventeen militants and two civilians had died in government operations since the attack. At least 12 militants were killed and more than a dozen wounded Saturday when Pakistani forces attacked suspected bases of Mehsud and his Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan. 'Two Pakistani fighter jets pounded Taliban militant hideouts in Makeen and Laddah, killing 10 Taliban and injuring 15 others,' local tribal police official Syed Akbar Khan told AFP. In a statement, the military said the aerial attack targeted 'centres of terrorist training facilities and arms and ammunition dumps at Laddah and Makeen,' without giving any casualties. Overnight, police killed five suspected militants with links to Mehsud who were said to be plotting terrorist attacks on the port city of Karachi. Police raided a house on the outskirts of the city after getting information that insurgents were holed up there disguised as people fleeing the anti-Taliban offensive in northwest Swat valley, Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmad told AFP. 'The militants opened fire. Police retaliated, killing five militants on the spot,' he said, adding that some of the rebels managed to escape. 'These militants from northwestern areas were plotting terror attacks inside the city, they had links with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.' In a separate incident militants early Saturday fired six rockets at a security camp and a paramilitary fort in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, a government official said. The security forces in retaliation shelled the militants, killing two and wounding three others. The shelling also killed two civilians and wounded three others, a resident said. The tolls could not be verified independently as the areas are out of bounds to journalists. The TTP is blamed for many of the suicide attacks and bombings that have killed almost 2,000 people over the past two years. Pakistan has been hit by a worsening wave of deadly attacks in recent weeks blamed on Taliban militants seeking to avenge a nearly two-month-long military offensive against them in Swat. Security forces say they are wrapping up that campaign and have opened a second front against Mehsud and his network along the Afghan border.