It’s ‘Open War,’ Taliban Says After Deadly Pakistan Bombing

Minneapolis Star Tribune

August 12, 2008, Peshawar, Pakistan – A bomb targeting a Pakistani Air Force bus carrying personnel from a military base killed at least 14 people, including a child, and wounded 11 others Tuesday on a major road near the center of Peshawar, the police said.

The bomb appeared to have been placed on top of a key bridge or near the bridge that links the city to Pakistan’s volatile tribal areas and triggered by remote control, the inspector general of police, Malik Naveed Khan, said.

Taliban forces reportedly took responsibility. The attack was seen as retaliation for Pakistani airstrikes in Bajaur, a militant stronghold near the border with Afghanistan, Khan said.

“It is an open war between us and them,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar told the Associated Press. “If these kinds of operations continue against us in Swat [Valley] and in the tribal areas, we will continue this.”

The bomb appeared to have been placed on top of a bridge or near the bridge and triggered by remote control, Khan said.

Pakistani officials could not be reached for comment or declined to react to the Taliban’s statement, but earlier in the day Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said the country would not yield in its attempts to end militancy in its frontier areas.

“It is our firm resolve that we will root out terrorism from Pakistan, and all of our security agencies are working together to achieve this goal,” he said.

In the past several days, the government has unleashed an offensive against militants in Bajaur, an area of Pakistan’s tribal region adjacent to Peshawar where the Taliban and Al-Qaida have forged particularly close ties on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.

Also Tuesday, Pakistani security forces said Al-Qaida’s reputed No. 3 commander, identified as Abu Saeed al-Masri, had been killed in fighting in Bajaur. It’s thought that his real name is Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Al-Qaida’s commander in Afghanistan.

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