A little-known Taliban commander based in North Waziristan claimed credit for the Dec. 24 bombing in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. The claim contradicts a report from Pakistani intelligence agencies, which attempted to blame Indian intelligence for the attack.
Toofan Wazir, the commander of the North Waziristan-based Ansar Wa Mohajir, or Helpers of the Mohajir, told The News his group conducted the Lahore bombing as well as a rocket attack in Dera Ismail Khan to avenge US strikes in the tribal regions. Toofan claimed the Pakistani government supports the US strikes.
“He said revenge would be taken from both the Americans and the Pakistan government,” The News reported. “In Pakistan, he warned, suicide bombings would be carried out and bombs would be planted and exploded at important government installations.”
“He threatened more attacks against the security forces and the government installations to avenge the two recent US missile strikes in North Waziristan in which several militants belonging to the Punjab were killed,” the news agency reported. Mohajir are Pakistanis who originally emigrated from India during the partition of 1947 that divided the two countries. Many settled in Pakistan’s Punjab province and in Karachi.
The latest US missile strike in neighboring South Waziristan is thought to have killed five Punjabis. Known as the “Punjabi Taliban,” these groups have been sponsored by Pashtun Taliban groups in the tribal areas. Mullah Nazir, the so-called “pro-government” Taliban commander in South Waziristan, has helped settle more than 2,000 Punjabi Taliban in the Wana region.
Toofan said the Helpers of the Mohajir is “committed to protect the foreigners who were the guests of local tribesmen.” The term “foreigners” is often used to describe Arab and other al Qaeda members.
Just days ago, Commander Naubahar, a Taliban leader serving under Nazir, threatened to conduct attacks against the Pakistani government if US airstrikes were not halted.
The News reported there are “discrepancies” in Toofan’s description of the Lahore attack. Toofan said the attack was carried out against a government installation by a suicide bombing, while the Lahore police said a truck bomb was detonated in “a housing colony.”
While a suicide bomber did not carry out the attack, the Lahore police did in fact say the bombing took place in “a heavily guarded neighborhood home to many government officials.” A police officer said the truck was able to enter the compound by using official plates.
Unnamed officials at Pakistani “intelligence agencies” claimed the attack was carried out by an “an Indian secret agent and two others.” The intelligence officials said the Indian intelligence officer confessed, while the seizure of explosives and fake identification badges, as well as traces and wiretaps proved his guilt.
The Pakistani claim of Indian involvement in the Lahore attack is unusual. This is the first such report in the Pakistani press in recent memory; the government always points the finger at the Taliban, al Qaeda, or terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
The claim comes as the government is under enormous pressure to crack down on Pakistan-based terror groups after the Mumbai assault late last month. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only Mumbai terrorist captured alive, admitted he was trained in Pakistan by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and said he received support from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency. Sabauddin Ahmed, another captured Lashkar-e-Taiba operative who aided in the Mumbai attacks, provided additional details on the group’s operations inside India and Pakistan as well as support from the Inter-Service Intelligence agency.