After busting terror plot, UK points fingers at Pakistan

11 04 2009

April 10, 2009 17:17 IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has asked President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] to do more to root out terrorism emanating from Pakistan’s territory after police in the UK arrested a dozen Al-Qaeda [Images] suspects, including 11 Pakistanis, over a “very big terrorist plot”.
“Prime Minister Brown telephoned President Zardari and the two leaders discussed matters relating to bilateral relations as well as the fight against terrorism,” 
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in Islamabad [Images], without giving details.
However, Dawn newspaper reported that Brown raised concerns about links between terrorists in the UK and Pakistan and demanded ‘intensified efforts to crush militants’.
The telephonic conversation between Brown and Zardari follow resignation of the UK’s top counter-terrorism expert Bob Quick after a security blunder by the police officer, who inadvertently disclosed a covert surveillance operation against Al-Qaeda suspects, forcing premature raids by police who arrested 12 suspects, including 11 Pakistanis.
Earlier, Brown said in the UK that there are ‘links between terrorists in Britain and terrorists in Pakistan. That is an important issue for us to follow through.’
‘One of the lessons we have learnt is that Pakistan has to do more to root out terrorist elements in its country,’ Brown told Sky News.
Brown said the British police raids on Wednesday targeted those behind “a very big terrorist plot”, which authorities “have been following for some time”.
The cell was believed to have been planning to carry out attacks during the Easter holidays.
Brown also sought Pakistan’s help in probing the terrorist plot — in which the 12th suspect arrested was a Briton with roots in the tribal areas while the 11 Pakistanis were in the UK on student visas.

British media reported that the mastermind of the terrorist cell was believed to have been Rashid Rauf, an Al-Qaeda suspect who was implicated in several other plots. He was reportedly killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan last year.
Al-Qaeda operatives in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region were highlighted as one of the major security threats confronting Britain in its government’s counter-terrorism strategy published last month.
Spokesman Babar said Brown and Zardari also discussed US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the fragile peace deal in the restive Swat valley. They also agreed to meet soon, he said.

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Swat girl denies she was flogged

7 04 2009

Two attacks a week to avenge U.S. drone strikes: Taliban

— Photo: AFP

Image taken from Pakistan’s Dawn News channel on Saturday shows the flogging of a woman by Taliban members in Swat valley.

Islamabad: The girl who was reportedly whipped by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley has denied the incident, even as a rally was taken out in Karachi to condemn the public lashing. The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a probe into the matter.

The girl was reportedly flogged by a Taliban cleric for “coming out of her house with another man who was not her husband”.

The girl’s statement before a magistrate was presented in the Supreme Court through Attorney-General Latif Khosa. “The girl has denied the alleged flogging incident,” Geo TV reported. The lashing footage was telecast on many news channels worldwide.

The victim was not present during the hearing.

Senior officials, including the Interior Secretary and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Inspector-General of Police, appeared before the eight-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary which is hearing the case.

Chief Justice Chaudhary said “investigations be conducted” into the incident.

A two-minute video showed the 17-year-old, burqa-clad girl screaming while being whipped by the Taliban men.

The grainy video, shot on a mobile phone, showed the girl face down on the ground. Two men held her arms and feet while a third, a black-turbaned man with a flowing beard, whipped her repeatedly, London’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The newspaper said it received the video through Samar Minallah, a Pashtun documentary maker.

After 34 lashes the punishment stopped and the wailing girl was led into a stone building.

The Minhajul Quran Women League (MQWL) on Saturday staged a demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club to condemn the flogging and demanded strict action against those involved in the incident, the News International reported.

Addressing the protesters, MQWL chief Fatima Mashadi said those who flogged the girl were not following Islam and they had brought a bad name to the religion and the country. — IANS

PTI reports:

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a paramilitary camp in the federal capital that killed eight security personnel and warned it would carry out two attacks a week to avenge U.S. drone strikes in the tribal areas.

Hakimullah Mehsud, one of the deputies of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, said Sunday’s suicide attack on a Frontier Corps camp in the heart of Islamabad was carried out by his group.





Pakistan: Two blasts in two days NDTV Correspondent Sunday, April 05, 2009, (Islamabad)

6 04 2009

Another day, another blast; this time a suicide bomber attacked a crowded Shia mosque in Chakwal in Pakistan’s Punjab province where a religious congregation was taking place. The damage was significant.

“The suicide bomber was trying to kill someone inside the mosque. Our security guards tried to stop him but the bomb exploded near the gate,” a resident said.

Twenty Shia worshippers were killed in the attack by a teenage suicide bomber.

“There was a lot of commotion. People were confused and there was panic all around,” another resident said.

The blast is the latest in a growing number of terror strikes in Pakistan’s interior and its major cities. On Saturday night, a suicide bomber killed eight people near Islamabad’s posh Jinnah market.

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed credit for a deadly attack on a police academy in Punjab’s capital Lahore last week that left 12 people dead. He has vowed to carry out more attacks unless the US stopped drone missile strikes against militants near the Afghan border.

The drone attacks have continued, and a Mehsud deputy warned last week that militants would soon strike in Islamabad.





NY shooting: Pak Taliban claim responsibility

5 04 2009

TALIBAN STRIKES BACK: Baitullah Mehsud (center) says the New York attack was carried out by his men.

TALIBAN STRIKES BACK: Baitullah Mehsud (center) says the New York attack was carried out by his men.

New Delhi: Pakistan’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack on a US immigration centre in New York in which 13 people were killed, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported.

He said it was carried out by a Pakistani and another man to avenge the missile strikes by US drones in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

“I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to US drone attacks,” Mehsud told media men by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan warned that “such attacks would continue” to avenge missile strikes by US drones in tribal areas and “brutalities in Palestine.”

Mehsud also pointed out that he had said a few days ago that his militants would carry out attacks on American soil.

The claim by the Pakistani Taliban commander came hours after a US drone attack in North Waziristan tribal agency killed 13 people, including women and children.

A man armed with two handguns killed 12 people at an immigration services centre before turning the gun on himself, said authorities in Binghamton, upstate New York.

They identified the killer as Jiverly Wong, an immigrant from Vietnam.

Mehsud had recently claimed responsibility for the terrorist siege of a police training centre at Manawan near Lahore that killed eight persons and injured over 90 as well as for two recent suicide attacks.

WHO IS BAITULLAH MEHSUD?

  • He is the leader of militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban

  • He belongs to the Mehsud tribe from South Waziristan

  • Mehsud commands about 20,000 pro-Taliban militants

  • His group includes some foreign fighters

  • He is known to provide sanctuary to militants fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan

  • Mehsud is the main accused in the assassination of former Pakistan prime minister, Benazir Bhutto





Pakistan bomber targets Islamabad protectors

5 04 2009

Karachi News.Net
Saturday 4th April, 2009

A lone suicide bomber in Pakistan has targeted the residential camp of a group of paramilitary forces.

The forces, which were put in place to guard the capital, Islamabad, were attacked in an area of the city which houses foreign missions and the homes of Pakistani officials.

The suicide bomber attacked after dark, when the soldiers were preparing to eat.

He entered one of the canvas tents that serve as soldiers barracks and detonated his explosives.

Officials had earlier received intelligence about a general threat against the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, but were unable to pinpoint the potential incident.

The bombing is latest in a series of attacks against security forces in recent weeks.

More than 20 people, including nine paramilitary troopers, were killed in two sucide bombings in Pakistan Saturday, officials said.

At least six members of Pakistan’s paramilitary, the Frontier Corps (FC), were killed and four others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a check post in Islamabad when the soldiers were having dinner, Senior Superintendent of Police Tahir Alam said.

The blast occurred in the upmarket residential area of F-7/3 near the Jinnah Supermarket, nearly four kilometres from President Asif Zardari’s office.

Deputy Inspector General Bin Yamin told reporters at the blast site that at least six security personnel were killed and 11 were injured.

TV channels said the blast was followed by loud gun shots and there was an exchange of fire between security forces and militants. One report said some attackers had taken shelter in one of the houses of the F7 neighbourhood, one of Islamabad’s upscale areas.

A TV report said at least eight attackers were holed up in the area.

However, Alam denied any exchange of fire, saying the security men fired in the air to scare away any other attackers. He said no militant was holed up.

Alam told a TV channel that body parts of the suicide bomber were found at the site.

Alam said one attacker was arrested. ‘We have one suspect in our custody. His interrogation is on,’ he said.

Separately, another suicide bombing Saturday on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, killed at least 17 people, including five children.

Over 40 people, including six Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers, were also injured in the attack which targeted security officials at a check post in the town, the Online news agency repoted. One soldier died later in the hospital.

Security forces took retaliatory measures and have cordoned off the entire area. The Miranshah Bazaar was also closed, the report said.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the terrorist attacks and vowed that his government would root out terrorism.

‘Such acts cannot deter the government’s determination to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,’ he said.

Violence in Pakistan has surged in recent months with a wave of attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

The latest attacks come five days after the March 30 terror assault on the Manawan police academy on Lahore’s outskirts when heavily armed militants held over 400 trainees hostage for over eight hours before Pakistani security forces recaptured the complex.

At least 18 people, including two civilians, eight policemen and eight militants, were killed and 95 injured in the terror attack owned up by Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Mehsud vowed in a telephone interview with reporters early this week to carry out an attack in Islamabad, as well as in the US, in retaliation for American missile strikes by Predator drone aircraft in the Pashtun ethnic belt of western Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

Last month, eight people, including policemen, were killed and several were injured when terrorists ambushed Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore.





Pakistan Taleban in Bajaur truce

24 02 2009

Pakistani soldiers in the north-west

Pakistani soldiers launched an operation in Bajaur in August

Source: BBC News

A senior Taleban figure in Pakistan’s Bajaur district has announced a unilateral ceasefire.

Faqir Mohammad made the announcement in a radio speech.

Faqir Mohammad is thought to be the deputy of Baitullah Mehsud, who the Pakistani authorities say is the main Taleban commander in the region.

The military says it has seized the strategic Bachina heights in Bajaur and it remains to be seen whether it will agree to a ceasefire.

The military began its operation in Bajaur last August and has used it as proof of its commitment to tackle the Taleban in the restive north-west.

The truce move comes a week after a deal was signed between Pakistani officials and Taleban representatives to end an insurgency in the Swat region in return for the imposition of Sharia law.

Alliances

Faqir Mohammad said in his 30-minute speech: “We made this announcement of a unilateral ceasefire in the interest of Pakistan and our region.

“We advise our people not to take action against security forces.”

He stressed that “Pakistan is our country and the Pakistan army is our army”.

Tribal areas map

Faqir Mohammad said: “We don’t want to fight the army, but some elements have been creating misunderstandings between us.”

He said there were no foreign fighters in Bajaur.

“However, if we found any foreigners here, the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) would take action against them.”

He warned that if drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas continued “we will avenge them by attacking Western troops inside Afghanistan”.

The announcement comes a day after the security troops dislodged militants from the strategic Bachina heights.

Military action has been lessening in Bajaur with the capture of several strategic points by the military.

It also came two days after the head of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, announced a new strategic alliance with two important non-TTP groups in Waziristan.

One is led by Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan and the other by Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan.

The announcement did not specifically mention the militants of Swat, Bajaur and Mohmand as forming a part of the new alliance.

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says many observers take this to mean that the Waziristan groups have decided to fend for themselves.

The Swat chapter of the TTP has already called a truce and the cleric, Sufi Muhammad, is brokering the peace talks between the Taleban and the government.

Our correspondent says observers believe some militants are on the retreat due to people’s war fatigue, the recent realignments within different groups in anticipation of the new US strategy in the region and increasing international pressure on Pakistan to eliminate militant sanctuaries.





Obama widening missile strikes inside Pak

22 02 2009

: Report21 Feb 2009, 1107 hrs IST, IANS
Source: Times of India

NEW YORK: The Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) inside Pakistan by attacking amilitant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government, the New York Times reported on Saturday.Two missile strikes over the last week, on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud, represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft, the influential US daily said in a report from Washington.
Under President George Bush, the US frequently attacked militants from al-Qaida and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, the Bush administration policy of using American spy agencies against terrorism suspects in Pakistan, as he had promised to do during his presidential campaign, the Times said.

Mehsud was identified early last year by both American and Pakistani officials as the man who had orchestrated the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and wife of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

Bush included Mehsud’s name in a classified list of militant leaders whom the CIA and American commandos were authorised to capture or kill. The Times said it was unclear why the Obama administration decided to carry out the attacks, which American and Pakistani officials said occurred last Saturday and again on Monday, hitting camps run by Mehsud’s network.The Saturday strike was aimed specifically at Mehsud, but he was not killed, the Times said citing Pakistani and American officials.

The Monday strike, officials cited by the Times said, was aimed at a camp run by Hakeem Ullah Mehsud, a top aide to the militant.By striking at the Mehsud network, the US may be seeking to demonstrate to Zardari that the new administration is willing to go after the insurgents of greatest concern to the Pakistani leader. But American officials may also be prompted by growing concern that the militant attacks are increasingly putting the civilian government of Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons, at risk, the daily said.The strikes came after a visit to Islamabad last week by Richard C. Holbrooke, the American envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.