Pro-Taliban militants own up Pakistan blast

May 19th, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, May 19 (DPA) Pro-Taliban militants Monday claimed responsibility for a weekend suicide bombing that killed 13 people near an Army base in north-western Pakistan, saying it was carried out to avenge a US missile attack in a tribal area. A bomber blew himself up Sunday in a military-run bakery near the Punjab Regimental Centre in the Mardan district of North-West Frontier Province. Among the dead were four soldiers, and more than 20 people were injured.

“Our colleagues in Mardan have carried out this attack in response to the bombing in Damadola,” Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the militant umbrella organisation Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, said in a statement.

Two guided missiles allegedly fired from a US drone hit a militant hideout Wednesday in the Damadola area of the Bajaur tribal district bordering Afghanistan. More than a dozen people, including the brother of a local Taliban commander, were killed.

Two days later, Islamabad lodged a formal protest with US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, but the militants said they believe the attack could not have been conducted without the assistance of Pakistani security forces.

“The government should avoid such action which could suspend the peace process,” Omar said, referring to the talks the new government recently opened with the rebels.

The peace negotiations have led to a sharp decline in suicide attacks, which have killed more than 1,000 people over the past 14 months.

But they have also raised concerns in Washington, which wants a tough stance from Islamabad on insurgents launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

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