Taliban claim responsibility for Lahore blast, 50 suspects held (Lead)

May 28th, 2009 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 28 (IANS) The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s car bomb blast that left 24 people dead and over 200 injured as over 50 suspects were arrested for the terror attack.
More than 50 people have been arrested in connection with the suicide blast at Rescue-15 building in Lahore’s Civil Lines area, Geo TV reported.

A deputy to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud told the BBC by telephone the attack was in response to the army’s ongoing operation in the Swat valley.

The caller, who identified himself as Hakimullah Mehsud, threatened similar attacks in other Pakistani cities.

The military went into action April 26 after the Taliban violated a controversial peace accord with the North West Frontier Province and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

US-based SITE Intelligence Group said that the Tehreek-e-Taliban militants made the claim in a statement posted on Turkish jihadist websites.

The group quoted the statement as saying that the attack “targeted the nest of evil in Lahore” and was an “humble gift to the Mujahideen who suffer beneath the attacks of Pakistani forces in Swat”.

It said that a vehicle laden with 100 kg explosives was blown up outside the security building in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province in Pakistan. The blast reduced the building to rubble.

The attack came two months after a team of 12 terrorists ambushed and fired rocket propelled grenades at a convoy carrying Sri Lankan players to the Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on March 3. Seven players and the team’s assistant coach were injured and six Pakistani police officials, who were providing protection to the bus carrying the players, were killed in the attack that shook the entire cricketing world.

Later that month, Pakistani security forces had to storm the Manawan police training academy on the outskirts of Lahore, ending a seven-hour siege by a group of heavily armed attackers who had taken over 800 trainees hostage. Four of the attackers were killed, while three were captured alive.

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