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Taliban claims responsibility for Karachi attacks

December 30, 2009 18:06 IST

The Taliban on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a Muharram procession of Pakistani Shia Muslims here that killed 43 people and threatened to carry out more such strikes within 10 days.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Asmatullah Shaheen, whose name figures on a list of Pakistan's 20 most wanted militant leaders, told reporters in the country's northwest that his group carried out the attack in Karachi on Monday.

Shaheen, who belongs to the Bhitani tribe and is a rival of pro-government militant leader Turkistan Bhitani, said that his fighters would carry out more attacks within 10 days.

Shaheen had joined the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan when it was headed by Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone attack in August. However, he has never publicly claimed responsibility for any previous attacks.

He identified the suicide bomber as one Hasnain Mawya and said the attack in Karachi was carried out to "protect the honour of the companions" of Prophet Mohammed.

The bomber detonated his suicide jacket as hundreds of people were marching down one of Karachi's main thoroughfares on the Shia holy day of Ashura. Several women and children were among the 43 people who died.

The attack triggered widespread rioting and violence that caused losses of billions of rupees in one of Karachi's main commercial hubs.

The Taliban have been blamed for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks across Pakistan that has killed over 500 people since October, when the army launched a major offensive against militants in Waziristan tribal region.

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