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We attacked Lahore, US next: Mehsud

We attacked Lahore, US next: Mehsud

Author: Ishtiaq Mahsud, Dera Ismail
Publication: Indian Express
Dated: April 1, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/we-attacked-lahore-us-next-mehsud/441484/

Introduction: Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, claims responsibility for the attack on the police academy in Lahore. All attackers were Afghan members of Mehsud's Taliban, say Pakistani investigators. The bearded man caught while the attack was underway Monday has been identified as Gul Khan alias Ishrat Khan. He speaks Pashto, and arrived in Lahore from Afghanistan Attack on police academy in retaliation for US missile strikes, say Pak Taliban

Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Pakistani Taliban, on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the deadly assault on the Pakistani police academy in Lahore and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on Washington.

Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the US, said the Lahore attack was in retaliation for the US missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border.

"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. He provided no details.

Mehsud and other Pakistani Taliban militants are believed to be based in the country's lawless areas near the border with Afghanistan, where they have stepped up their attacks throughout Pakistan.

He also claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed four soldiers on Monday in Bannu district and a suicide attack targeting a police station in Islamabad last week that killed one officer.

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesman from a little-known militant group linked to the Pakistani Taliban also claimed credit for the attack and a similar ambush-style attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this month in Lahore. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the two claims.

Omar Farooq, who said he is the spokesman for Fedayeen al-Islam, said the group would carry out more attacks unless Pakistani troops withdraw from tribal areas near the Afghan border and the US stops its drone strikes. The group previously said it was behind the deadly September bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad that killed 54 people.

Mehsud declined to comment on Fedayeenal-Islam's claim that it carried out the attack or to say whether the group is linked to his own. "At this time, I will not give any detail," Mehsud said. He said he was not deterred by the US bounty on his head. "I wish to die and embrace martyrdom," he said.

Meanwhile, Wasim Ahmad Sial, a senior Lahore police official, said authorities have obtained fingerprints of the attackers who blew themselves up in the police academy and have determined one of their identities. Punjab police chief, Khwaja Khalid Farooq, told reporters that a suspected militant who was captured at the scene of the attack had provided "genuine and actual leads that are beneficial for interrogation." He said about 50 other people in Lahore were detained overnight for questioning.

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