Lahore revenge for Swat: TTP

Nov 30, -0001
By Shahid Hussain, Rai Hasnain and Tariq Waheed

PESHAWAR/LAHORE: The Lahore suicide attack was revenge for Swat, said Hakeemullah Mehsud of the Pakistani Taliban or Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) while speaking to SAMAA in an interview Thursday.

He said: The suicide attack that took place in Lahore yesterday, it was not revenge for North and South Waziristan. We did this suicide attack - this army operation was started in Swat and innocent people are being murdered and Swat mujahideen [holy fighters] are being bombed - it was revenge for them."

Earlier on, another group, calling itself the Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab [not Pakistan] claimed responsibility for the Lahore bombing in a Turkish language communique on a jihadi website, according to Reuters that quoted SITE Intelligence Group. The news agency said that the claim could not be verified and the group's relationship to the Taliban was unclear.

The Government of Pakistan issued Thursday head money for the arrest of Muslim Khan, Mullah Fazlullah and their allies of the Pakistani Taliban.

Thirty people and animals at the Lahore Zoo were killed and 262 people were injured in a car bomb blast on Mall Road near the Central Police Office at a 15 rescue office Wednesday. The funerals for 13 police officials of 14 were offered amid tears and ceremony.


An inquiry team headed by Additional IG Zaffar Majeed with the DIG CID and ISI and MI officials are investigating the attack.

Five suspects have been arrested from different parts of the Punjab’s capital after the blast.

"Both [the rescue 15 office and the CPO] could have been targeted," said a tight-lipped IG Punjab Tariq Saleem Dogar at 7:00 p.m. at Mayo Hospital where he was ambushed by the media Wednesday.

An Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) building is located right behind the CPO, said defense analyst Ejaz Haider, adding that it could have also have been a target.

"A car came and broke through a barrier and exploded," Lahore's District Coordination Officer Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta told reporters.

The explosion took place as discussions were being held into the Liberty Chowk or Manawan tragedy at the CPO.

Three of the suspects taken into custody appeared to be in their 20s.

DCO Lahore Sajjad Bhutta said that a vehicle ran through the security barrier. Army jawans quickly arrived at the scene, cordoned it off and started rescuing the people believed to be trapped in the debris.

From all immediate signs, terrorists appear to have targeted the a 15 rescue services building, which has been completely destroyed and all parked vehicles, nearly 10 to 15, have been decimated. Twenty-five officers were said to be in the building at the time.

The explosion took place at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday (May 27). Shots were fired in the area immediately after or before and their sequence .

A former duty-free mall's building has been damaged among others. The CPO has also been damaged.

'15' rescue services are the Pakistani equivalent of 911 in the US.

The injured and dead were taken to Mayo Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Services Hospital.

Mall Road's official name is Shahrah-e Fatima Jinnah.

Analyst Ejaz Haider said that unfortunately these buildings, such as the Central Police Office and the ISI building, were constructed at a time when such threats did not exist in Pakistan. Now, they are protected by barricades, which is not enough. They need to be moved away from heavily populated areas.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Federal Home Minister Rehman Malik have ordered a report immediately.

Two hand grenades, one suicide jacket and a landmine were said to have been recovered by the security forces. A timed device weighing 1kg was also recovered.

Around 80 to 90 kg explosion material are believed to have been used in the bomb.


Federal Home Minister Rehman Malik reacted to the Lahore bomb blast Wednesday afternoon, saying it could be a reaction to the army operation in Malakand and Swat. “Everything would be okay in the next few days,” he said while speaking to the media during a break in a briefing with Sindh IG Salahuddin Babar Khattak in Karachi.

Malik said that the militants have targeted other parts of the country when they begin to lose control in Swat. He warned the terrorists to surrender and said that the government was committed to eliminating them. “There will be no negotiations with them,” he added.


One petrol pump and two showrooms were among the several buildings and more than 100 vehicles damaged in the bomb blast. Mayo Hospital sources said that 102 injured people were brought there.

Video footage captured by a closed-circuit camera showed that the explosion occurred just two minutes after a spurt of firing.

Lahore Commissioner Pervez Khusro put the number of injured at 180 people.

AGENCIES ADD: There was no claim of responsibility, but the blast comes as the army is battling militants in the Swat region in the northwest of the country in its most concerted action to push back a growing Taliban insurgency.

"It was a strong bomb blast. It damaged several buildings and cars and shattered widows," said police spokesman Nayyab Haider.

Haider said he had no information about casualties, but a Reuters witness said he saw several wounded people.

Gunshots were heard immediately after the blast but it was not clear who was firing, the witness said.

A big cloud of white smoke rose over the city after the blast.

The attack came as General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, was in Islamabad for meetings with government and military leaders.

Militant violence has surged in Pakistan since mid-2007, with numerous attacks on the security forces, as well as government and Western targets.

Officials have warned that militants might launch bomb attacks in retaliation for the offensive in Swat where the military says about 15,000 members of the security forces face 4,000-5,000 militants.

Lahore is capital of Punjab province, the country's most populous and prosperous province. The country's second biggest city is also traditionally home to top bureaucrats and the military top brass.

The city has seen several bomb attacks over the past couple of years but had felt much safer than other parts of the country until March when militants launched two brazen attacks.

Attackers firing rifles and throwing grenades stormed a police training academy on the outskirts of the city on March 30, killing eight recruits, wounding scores and holding off the security forces for hours.

That attack, claimed by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, came less than a month after a dozen gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team in the city, killing six police guards and a bus driver.

Here is a chronology of some of the major bomb attacks in Pakistan over the last year, 2007, 2008:


Oct. 19 - At least 139 people killed in suicide bomb attack on Benazir Bhutto's motorcade as the former prime minister is driven through Karachi after arriving





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