Monday, October 12, 2009-fox- PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A homicide bomber killed at least 40 people in an attack on a military vehicle at a market in northwest Pakistan on Monday as the Taliban claimed responsibility for a weekend siege on the army's headquarters.
The blast in Shangla district — the fourth terrorist attack in just over a week — may have been a homicide car bombing, police official Tahir Khan said. An army vehicle was ablaze at the scene, witness Khalid Khan said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came ahead of an expected offensive in the main Al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan.
Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq called The Associated Press and said the weekend assault on army headquarters, which left 20 people dead, was only the first in a planned wave of strikes intended to avenge the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a CIA missile strike in August.
"This was our first small effort and a present to the Pakistani and American governments," he said.
He said the raid on army headquarters was carried out by a Punjabi faction of the militant group and it had given orders to other militant branches in Sindh, Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province to launch similar operations.
The claim that militants in the Punjabi district were responsible for the 22-hour standoff at Pakistan's "Pentagon" was a worrying sign for the government, and showed the guerrillas had spread out from their northwestern base into the heart of the country.
Tariq warned the army against launching any offensive into South Waziristan, saying the operation would be its undoing.
The latest blast tore through a market Monday in the Alpuri area in the Shangla district.
Shangla lies east of Swat, which has been the focus of an intense military offensive against the Taliban. The army says it has largely cleared the valley of the insurgents. Many Taliban are believed to have melted into the rural areas or gone to neighboring districts.
Senior police official Idrees Khan said 32 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded in the explosion. While an army vehicle was on fire, it was not immediately clear whether it was the target of the attack.
Oct. 11: Pakistani army troops run to take position near their own army's headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Click to view image: '28bab9a6614e-4_64_a320.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|