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TALEBAN DECLARE WAR

Arab News - May 29, 2009 by Alamgir Bitani Peshawar (Pakistan) - Two bombs exploded in a market in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar yesterday, killing six people, and gunmen on rooftops ambushed police as they arrived at the scene. A short while after the bombs went off in Peshawar, a suicide bomber attacked a paramilitary post in another part of the city, killing three soldiers, a hospital official said. A wounded soldier said earlier five comrades had been killed. The two bombs were planted on motorbikes in Peshawar’s Bazaar Qissa Khawani (the Storytellers’ Market) in the old city and caused extensive damage. Six people were killed and some 70 wounded, provincial government Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour said. As police reached the scene, gunmen opened fire from rooftops. Television showed policemen firing back while colleagues strapped on bullet-proof vests. Police later said two gunmen had been killed and two suspects detained. Shortly after the suicide bomber attacked the paramilitary post, a bomb went off in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, killing four people and wounding six, police said. The attacks came hours after the Taleban claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb-and-gun attack in the city of Lahore on Wednesday that killed 24 people, saying it was revenge for the Swat offensive. “We were looking for this target for a long time,” Hakimullah Mehsud, a commander loyal to Pakistani Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud, said by telephone. The bomb-and-gun attack in Peshawar appeared to be the latest in a string of more sophisticated strikes in Pakistan. The army moved against the Taleban in their Swat Valley stronghold after the militants had seized a district 100 km from the capital as a peace pact collapsed. Soldiers had made progress in securing Swat’s main town of Mingora, with a commander saying 70 percent of it had been cleared and the remainder will be secured in two or three days. Hakimullah Mehsud, speaking before the Peshawar blasts, warned of more violence. “We plan major attacks against government facilities in coming days and weeks,” he told Reuters. The military released Wednesday what it said was a tape of an intercepted telephone call between the Taleban spokesman in Swat, Muslim Khan, and an unidentified militant in which Khan is quoted as saying soldiers’ families should be attacked. “Strikes should be carried out on their homes so their kids get killed and then they’ll realize,” Khan said on the tape. The unidentified man said orders had gone out to strike wherever possible.





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