December 27, 2008 9:29:22 am
In what is seen as an embarassment to Pakistan, a previously unknown pro-Taliban group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s car bomb attack in Lahore for which Islamabad sought to implicate India by claiming its nationals were involved.
Punching holes in claims by Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies, a man identifying himself as Toofan Wazir, the commander and spokesman of the group called ‘Ansar Wa Mohajir’, phoned The News daily from somewhere in North Waziristan to claim responsibility for the Lahore blast and earlier rocket attacks on Dera Ismail Khan city. Wazir reportedly threatened more attacks against security forces and government installations to avenge two recent US missile strikes in North Waziristan in which several militants from Punjab province were killed. The report said it appeared “obvious that he (Wazir) and his men are pro-Taliban and part of the Pakistani Taliban”.
Media reports have said that hours after Wednesday’s car bomb attack, intelligence and security agencies in Lahore arrested an alleged Indian national identified as either Satish Anand Shukla or Satish Anand Sharma. The man, who purportedly worked in the Indian High Commission in London, belonged to Kolkata, the reports said.
Geo News channel subsequently reported that intelligence agencies had yesterday arrested three more alleged Indian nationals on the basis of information provided by the first man who was nabbed. A camera and a pistol were reportedly found in their possession. Police officials in Lahore have not confirmed the arrest of the alleged Indian nationals and there has been no official word on the matter. The Indian High Commission here has also not been informed about these arrests by Pakistani authorities.
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Ansar Wa Mohajir spokesman Wazir said US drones fired missiles at Pakistani targets with the agreement and cooperation of the government of Pakistan. Revenge will be taken by striking at both the Americans and the Pakistan government, he said. In Pakistan, suicide bombings will be carried out and bombs will be exploded at important government installations, he warned. Wazir claimed his men were “Ansar” (fighters) who hosted “Mohajir” or refugees from different countries and people from places in Pakistan who came to find refuge in Waziristan. He said the group is committed to protect foreigners, who are guests of the local tribesmen.
However, there was a discrepancy in Wazir’s account of the attack in Lahore. He claimed it was a suicide bombing targeting a government installation. Police have said the blast was caused by explosives hidden in a truck.
Meanwhile, the Dawn newspaper quoted police sources as identifying the three other alleged Indians arrested for the Lahore attack as Ram Kumar, Ram Chandar and Prakash. The report said the three men were arrested in Shafeeqabad area of Lahore on Thursday morning. The sources claimed the four arrested men were all involved in the bomb attack and their interrogation “might lead to more people and their connection” with India. The “chain of Indian spies could be long and linked to local people”, the report said.
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