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Mehsud claims responsibility for Lahore attack

world Updated: Mar 31, 2009 21:08 IST
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Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the terrorist siege of a police training centre near Lahore that killed nine persons and injured over 90 others.

Pakistani TV channels reported that Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, had owned responsibility for the audacious attack.

Mehsud, who is linked to Al-Qaeda and is based in the lawless Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, has been linked by authorities to several high-profile terrorist attacks in the past two years, including the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

On Monday, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters that Mehsud was involved in the attack, which he said was planned in South Waziristan region.

Earlier on Tuesday, the little-known Fidayeen al-Islam group claimed responsibility for the assault on the police centre and said it would carry out more attacks unless Pakistani troops withdrew from the tribal areas and authorities released Abdul Aziz, the chief cleric of the radical Lal Masjid in Islamabad.

A man named Omar Farooq, who claimed to be the spokesman for Fidayeen al-Islam, told reporters in Peshawar that the US should stop drone attacks in the tribal belt. Farooq is also a member of the Pakistan Taliban.

Farooq also claimed his group had carried out the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3. Eight persons were killed and over 20 others injured in that attack.

The Fidayeen al-Islam had earlier said it was behind the suicide car bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed nearly 60 people.