Pakistan bombs Taliban hideouts after week of carnage

11:20, October 14, 2009      

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Pakistan fighter jets pounded Taliban sanctuaries in the northwest border areas on Tuesday, as the militant group claimed responsibility for the latest attack in a wave of attacks which have killed 125 people in a week, local media reported.

Fighter jets launched another round of bombing raids killing six suspected insurgents in South Waziristan, the semi-autonomous region bordering Afghanistan and a known stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked rebels, officials said.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, meanwhile, vowed to wipe out the Islamist extremist threat in Pakistan, with a fierce military operation into the Taliban's mountain sanctuaries believed to be imminent.

The army claims to have already quashed militants in the one-time tourist paradise of Swat valley, but on Monday a teenage suicide bomber struck in the neighboring northwest district of Shangla, killing 45 people.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, with spokesman Azam Tariq telling media: "This is revenge for our martyrs... This is part of the series of attacks that we are carrying out. Wait and see more."

The group has also claimed responsibility for a weekend hostage drama at army headquarters which hit at the heart of one of the most powerful institutions in the nation.

Local media have reported that the threat to army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi was known in advance by police, and have questioned why the siege which left 23 people dead was not thwarted.

On Oct. 5, local newspaper The News published extracts of a correspondence between the interior ministry and Punjab authorities, warning that militants in army uniforms were planning to target the headquarters -- exactly what happened days later.

"Don't blame intelligence agencies, they have foiled several planned attacks, we foiled at least a hundred attacks before they were carried out," Malik told reporters.

A spokesperson for Punjab Senator Pervaiz Rashid confirmed to media that the provincial home department had dispatched a confidential letter to the army and other departments in July highlighting possible targets.

Source: Xinhua
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