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Kashmir bomber is Pakistan Taliban: govt

The bomber who carried out the first suicide attack in Pakistani-administered Kashmir is a Taliban militant from the northwest tribal zone of Waziristan, an official said today.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2009 18:02 IST

The bomber who carried out the first suicide attack in Pakistani-administered Kashmir is a Taliban militant from the northwest tribal zone of Waziristan, an official said on Saturday.

The blast Friday hit an army vehicle in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani part of the divided Himalayan region, killing two soldiers and wounding three others.

"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.

Police said they were investigating the attack. "We are investigating how a suicide bomber managed to enter in the sensitive military area," senior police official Raja Ilyas told AFP.

A Taliban spokesman on Saturday said the bombing was in retaliation for military operations against the militants.

"We claim responsibility for this attack. This was done in revenge for the 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 all over Pakistan," he said.

A top administration official in Muzaffarabad, Chaudhry Imtiaz, said police had arrested about 200 people for questioning, adding that security had been beefed up in different parts of Pakistani Kashmir.

The Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led by Mehsud, is blamed for many of the suicide attacks and bombings that have killed almost 2,000 people over the last two years.

Pakistani security forces on Saturday pounded suspected bases of Baitullah in South Waziristan, killing at least 12 Taliban and wounding 15 others, officials said.

Troops are wrapping up an almost two-month-long operation against Taliban rebels in northwest Swat valley, and announced the imminent launching of a second offensive against Mehsud and his network in South Waziristan.