Archive for April 3rd, 2009

The Baitullah Volcano Shaking the Pakistani Earth frquently

April 3, 2009

Lahore Police Academy attacked by Talibani Outfits, 35 Died at clash, 6 Terrorists captured alive

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Pak cops held hostage for 8 hrs

The Nation/ANN & PTI/The Statesman, Kolkata

LAHORE, March 30: Barely a month after the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters in Dhaka was taken over by mutineers allegedly at the behest of Islamic militants operating in Bangladesh, heavily-armed terrorists today gunned down at least nine persons, including eight police officers, and injured 90 others as they stormed into a police academy near here. The eight-hour siege that followed ended with four terrorists being shot dead and several being captured alive by security forces.
Earlier reports had put the death toll at 27 (35 as reported by other sources) but the figure was scaled down after security forces conducted a sweep of the training centre after killing or overpowering the attackers. The attack came within a month of a brazen attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in this city. Thanks God ! This time the Cops took the pro-active stand unlike the reluctant contingent on 3/3 at Gaddafi Stadium duty point.
Lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately, the terrorists, said to number between 10 and 16, struck the academy as trainees prepared for the morning drill, killing guards at the gate and later holed up inside with hostages. Authorities clamped a curfew, and called in the army and paramilitary rangers who along with police laid a siege to the sprawling complex where an estimated 800 unarmed policemen were present. Helicopters and armoured carriers were deployed by the security forces to monitor the situation inside, which authorities described as a hostage crisis.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Interior ministry chief Mr Rehman Malik said suspicion was on the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Taliban. Mr Malik said the attack bore resemblance to the Mumbai terror strikes. But India, which expressed deep concern, refused to draw a parallel between the incident and the Mumbai attacks. “We are deeply concerned. We condemn these terrorist attacks…,” home minister Mr P Chidambaram said in New Delhi. External affairs minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee said the incident proves that terrorism has not been eliminated in Pakistan and was continuing unabated.
Prior to the attack, which started between 7-8 a.m, a series of at least five blasts were heard at the training centre at Manawan, 12 km from the Indian border at Wagah. This was followed by an exchange of fire between the attackers and policemen that continued for more than eight hours. Most of the casualties occurred near the gate of the centre when the terrorists lobbed several grenades and then fired indiscriminately. DIG (investigations) Mr Mushtaq Sukhera said 850 recruits were present in the centre at the time of the attack. Lahore police commissioner Mr Azam Suleman said 34 people had been admitted to hospitals.
Elite commandos and security personnel surrounded the premises and used teargas shells to flush the terrorists out. “The operation has ended with overpowering of a number of terrorists. While four were shot dead, several more were arrested,” interior ministry chief Mr Malik said. One of the captured terrorists is 19-20 years old and is an Afghan national, he said. A joint investigation team has been formed to probe the attack, Mr Malik said.
The USA today asked the ISI to sever all its ties with extremists groups including Al Qaida, the Taliban and LeT. “What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand these groups are now an existential threat to them…,” US defence secretary Mr Robert Gates told Fox News today. US state department spokesman Mr Gordon Duguid called today’s attack an attack on Pakistan’s institutions and said Pakistan needs the USA’s help, and that of the international community in fighting terrorism successfully.

Pak security at alert……
Amid warning by Intelligence agencies that 14 terrorists had sneaked into the federal capital and Lahore, Pakistan Premier Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday ordered authorities across the country to beef up security at key institutions and remain vigilant to thwart possible militant attacks.
Mr Gilani chaired a high-level meeting in Islamabad and asked Interior Ministry chief Mr Rehman Malik to enhance security at important institutions and ensure the safety of people, an official statement said.
The meeting came as Pakistani Intelligence agencies warned authorities that 14 terrorists had entered Islamabad and Lahore in the guise of Islamic preachers (Moulavi) to carry out strikes. The warning follows Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud’s threats that his group planned to carry out more attacks across the country in retaliation for continued US drone attacks in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, says AP from Islamabad.

Suicide attack kills 11 in northwest Pakistan
26 Mar 2009, 1116 hrs IST, AFP

PAKISTAN: A suicide bomber struck a restaurant in volatile northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 11 people including militants opposed to the country’s top Taliban commander, intelligence officials said.

Pockets of northwest Pakistan are strongholds for Taliban, al-Qaida and other militant groups, not all of whom get along.

Even as Pakistan has battled the extremists and the U.S. has carried out dozens of missile attacks against the militants, including a suspected American strike that killed eight on Wednesday, the armed groups have also attacked one another.

The attack on Thursday morning occurred just outside the South Waziristan tribal region near the town of Tank at a roadside restaurant where some two dozen militants loyal to Turkistan Bittani were eating, two intelligence officials told The Associated Press.

Several other people were wounded in the attack, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the media.

Bittani was not present. South Waziristan is the stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud, a Bittani rival.

The tribal region also was the target of Wednesday’s alleged US missile strike, whose death toll included several foreigners, according to two other intelligence officials said. Wednesday’s strike damaged two vehicles near Makeen, a town that borders Afghanistan.

The strike came as President Barack Obama’s administration prepares to unveil a new strategy to quell Islamist insurgents threatening Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

American officials have indicated that attacks along Pakistan’s un-policed western frontier, apparently carried out by unmanned CIA aircraft and stepped up since last year, will continue despite protests from the Pakistani government.

The officials discussed the missile strike on condition of anonymity because they also were not authorized to speak to the media. Reporters cannot verify reports from the area because authorities and militants limit access.

US officials say the strikes have killed a string of militant leaders and put al-Qaida on the defensive in an area considered a possible hiding place for its fugitive leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.

However, the Pakistani government argues that the tactic is counterproductive because it kills civilians, stokes anti-American feeling in the Islamic world’s only nuclear-armed country and undermines its own efforts to isolate extremists.

US announces $5m reward for info about Haqqani, Mehsud
26 Mar 2009, 2101 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN

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WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday offered $5 million bounty each for Sirajuddin Haqqani, believed to have been involved in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul at the instance of Pakistan’s ISI, and Baitullah Mehsud, a suspect in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

The remuneration, under the state department’s Rewards for Justice scheme, is for ”information leading to the location, arrest, and/or conviction,” of Haqqani and Mehsud, officials said. A separate $1 million reward was also announced for Abu Yahya al-Libi, described as a prominent member of al-Qaida.

The reward for Haqqani particularly will interest New Delhi since Washington believes the Haqqani network executed the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul at the instance of ISI.

US electronic intercepts is said to have yielded ”ISI fingerprints” on the operation in the form of communication about the attack, which some experts believe was conducted by Pakistan to warn India about its growing influence in Afghanistan.

The US reward incidentally covers only Siraj Haqqani while leaving out his father Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was once seen as an American ally during the Afghan War when Washington used the mujaheddin to oust the then Soviet Union. Haqqani sr. is also believed to be ailing and close to death.

Terrorism analyst Bill Roggio told ToI that the reward for the junior Haqqani alone was probably made at the behest of ISI, which believes it can cause a rift between the father and son.

Pakistan has routinely tried the strategy of playing off one faction of extremists against another to achieve its tactical goals. In Swat, Islamabad has signed a peace deal with what it regards as a moderate Talibanist, Sufi Mohammed, in an effort to rein in his more extremist son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah.

Subsequent to the Kabul attack, Pakistan’s army chief Pervez Ashraf Kiyani, a former ISI Director General, had described Haqqani as a strategic asset. It was not clear whether he was referring to the father or son or both.

In another example of the wages of Pakistan’s divide-and-rule tactics, a suicide bomber sent by Baitullah Mehsud on Thursday blew himself up in a restaurant near the town of Tank in an effort to kill a pro-government militant named Turkistan Bitani, resulting in the death of 11 Bitani men. Bitani himself escaped the attack.

The Mehsud and Bitani clans have been at loggerheads in Pakistan’s restive frontier province. Mehsud had killed Bitani’s brother, who was strangely named Hindustan, in an attack last year to avenge the death of 35 of his men. Such internecine fighting is in any case common in the Frontier region.

The rewards for justice program has unclaimed booty of $ 25 million each for Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri, both accused in the 9/11 attacks and on the lam in nearly a decade since.

However, the program has paid more than $77 million to over 50 people who provided information that ”prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts.”

Those reported under the program include Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusai, first World Trade Center attack accused Ramzi Yousef, and Mir Aimal Kansi, who was charged with the brazen assassination of CIA analysts right outside the agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

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