Pakistani Taliban Claims Responsibility in Lahore Police Attack
By Barry Newhouse
Islamabad
31 March 2009

Pakistani officials said Monday's deadly assault on a police training center outside Lahore was planned by a top Pakistani Taliban commander who is now threatening attacks inside the United States. The Taliban commander has claimed responsibility for the most recent attack in Pakistan and other recent suicide bombings.

Pakistani officials were quick to name Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud as a prime suspect in the assault that killed eight police cadets and wounded nearly 100 others at the Manawan police training center Monday.

Security forces captured one of the gunmen, who they said was an Afghan from eastern Paktika province. The chief of the Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik, said the captured gunman gave authorities details of the plot.

Malik said the planning of the attack was done under Baitullah Mehsud in the South Waziristan region and all of those involved traveled to Lahore from South Waziristan some 15 days ago.

In a series of phone interviews with news organizations, including VOA, Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for the attack. Reporters said they recognized Mehsud's voice from previous interviews.

A spokesman for a different, and little known group, the Fedayeen al-Islam, also took responsibility for the attack in calls to reporters.  Few details are known about that group or its affiliations.

Mehsud said Monday's assault, as well as a suicide bombing on an Islamabad police station last week and a previous bombing in the western town Bannu, were in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in the tribal regions.

He said the main reason for these attacks is that the drone strikes kill innocent people, particularly women and children. He said more attacks are planned.

In interviews with other news organizations, the militant leader said his group was making no demands on the Pakistani government or the United States. He said militants only want revenge.

U.S. commanders have said the drone strikes against suspected militant targets are an effective strategy to kill top Taliban and al Qaida leaders. The strikes, which often result in civilian casualties, are unpopular in Pakistan, and local officials often publicly denounce them as counterproductive.

Earlier this month, the U.S. government offered up to $5 million for information leading to the location or capture of Mehsud, who leads the largest Pakistani Taliban faction. The United States considers Mehsud a key al Qaida facilitator in Pakistan's tribal areas who has conducted cross-border attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

He is also suspected in the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, as well as the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Mehsud dismissed the U.S. bounty, saying his capture would make him a martyr. He also threatened to carry out attacks abroad.

He said we will take revenge from Americans, not within Pakistan, but in Washington and the White House.

In Washington, U.S. State Department Spokesman Gordon Duguid said he was unaware of Mehsud's threat. Duguid expressed condolences to families of victims of the police center attack and said the forces responsible are the enemies of peaceful and democratic governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Monday's assault is the second carried out this month in Lahore. Gunmen also attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team on a bus in the downtown area several weeks ago. Officials have worried the violence, which is uncommon in the eastern Pakistan city, is an indication that militant attacks previously confined to the country's northwest, are now threatening the entire country.

巴基斯坦塔利班称策划拉合尔爆炸

巴基斯坦官员说,拉合尔郊外一个警察训练中心星期一受到的致命攻击是巴基斯坦塔利班一名高级指挥官策划的,这个人现在威胁要在美国境内发动袭击。这名塔利班指挥官声称对发生在巴基斯坦的这起最新袭击事件以及近期的其它自杀式炸弹爆炸事件负责。

*巴官员:迈赫苏德为首要嫌疑人*

巴基斯坦官员立即指名道姓地说,巴基斯坦塔利班领导人巴伊图拉.迈赫苏德是这起袭击的首要嫌疑人。星期一发生在马纳旺警察训练中心的袭击事件造成8名见习警官丧生,另有近100人受伤。安全部队抓获其中一名武装分子,据安全部队说,他是阿富汗人,来自阿富汗东部的帕克蒂亚省。巴基斯坦内政部长拉赫曼.马利克说,这名被擒获的武装分子向当局供出了这次阴谋的详细情况。

马利克说,这次袭击由在南瓦济里斯坦地区的巴伊图拉.迈赫苏德一手策划,参加袭击的人都大约15天前从南瓦济里斯坦赶到拉合尔。

*迈赫苏德声称对袭击负责*

迈赫苏德在接受包括美国之音在内的新闻媒体一连串电话采访时声称对这起袭击负责。记者说,他们从以往的采访录音中听出那就是迈赫苏德的声音。

一个名叫伊斯兰敢死队组织的发言人在接受记者采访时也对这次袭击承担责任。伊斯兰敢死队是一个鲜为人知的组织,人们对这个组织的详情、该组织的分支都知之甚少。

迈赫苏德说,星期一的袭击以及上星期伊斯兰堡一个警察局发生的自杀式炸弹袭击,还有先前在西部本努镇的那次炸弹爆炸都是为了报复美国无人驾驶飞机对巴基斯坦部落地区的空袭。

迈赫苏德说,发动这些袭击主要是为了报复美国无人驾驶飞机炸死无辜平民,特别是遇害的妇女和儿童。他说,他们在策划发动更多袭击。

这位激进组织领导人在接受其它媒体采访时说,他的组织对巴基斯坦政府和美国政府没有什么要求,只想进行报复。

*美政府悬赏缉拿*

美国军方领导人表示,无人驾驶飞机空袭可疑的激进分子目标是消灭塔利班和基地组织高层领导人的有效战略。空袭经常造成巴基斯坦平民伤亡,在巴基斯坦引起反感,当地官员经常公开谴责美国无人驾驶飞机的空袭,说空袭的作用适得其反。

这个月早些时候,美国政府悬赏500万美元,奖励提供情报找到迈赫苏德或者将他抓获的人,迈赫苏德是巴基斯坦塔利班最大派别的领导人。美国把迈赫苏德视为在巴基斯坦部落地区重要的基地组织合作者,他指挥了针对驻阿富汗美军部队的越境袭击。迈赫苏德还涉嫌制造了2008年伊斯兰堡万豪酒店的爆炸事件,以及对巴基斯坦前总理贝.布托的暗杀。

*迈赫苏德威胁在美实施报复*

迈赫苏德不理会美国的悬赏缉拿。他说,如果他被抓获就可以成为烈士。他还威胁在巴基斯坦境外发动袭击。

迈赫苏德说,我们会对美国人实施报复,不过不是在巴基斯坦境内,而是在华盛顿或者是白宫。

*美发言人:巴民主政府敌人*

在华盛顿,美国国务院发言人杜吉德表示,他并没有听说迈赫苏德发出的威胁。杜吉德对在警察训练中心袭击中遇难警官的家人表示哀悼,并说对这次袭击承担责任的这股势力是巴基斯坦爱好和平的民主政府的敌人。

星期一的袭击是拉合尔这个月发生的第二起类似事件。几个星期之前,武装分子还在拉合尔市中心袭击了乘坐大客车的斯里兰卡板球队。有关官员担心,发生在巴基斯坦东部这起非同寻常的暴力事件表明,激进分子以往的袭击局限在巴基斯坦西北部,现在正在威胁整个国家。