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Police blame Pakistani Taliban in attack on sect

LAHORE, Pakistan — Militants who attacked the minority Ahmadi sect, killing 93 people in the country's east, belonged to the Pakistani Taliban and were trained in a lawless border region where the United States wants Islamabad to mount an army operation, police said Saturday.

The revelation could help the United States persuade Pakistan that rooting out extremist groups in North Waziristan is in its own interest. Pakistan has resisted that, saying its army is stretched thin in other operations.

Suspicion that the man accused of a failed bombing attempt in New York's Times Square on May 1 may have been helped by the Pakistani Taliban has added to U.S. urgency.

Local TV channels have reported the Pakistani Taliban, or an affiliate, had claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks in Pakistan's second-largest city.

Senior police Officer Akram Naeem in Lahore said the interrogation of one of the arrested suspects revealed that the gunmen were involved with the Pakistani Taliban. The 17-year-old suspect told police the attackers had trained in the North Waziristan tribal region.

"Our initial investigation has found that they all belong to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan," or Pakistani Taliban, Naeem said. He said the suspect, "Abdullah alias Mohammed, was given terrorism training in Miran Shah" — the main city in North Waziristan.

Also Saturday, Ahmadi leaders in Pakistan demanded better government protection as they buried many of the people killed. "Are we not the citizens of Pakistan?" local Ahmadi leader Raja Ghalib Ahmad asked at the site of one of the attacks in the Garhi Shahu section of Lahore.

The request could test the government's willingness to take on hard-line Islamists whose influence is behind decades of state-sanctioned discrimination against the Ahmadis in a country that is majority Sunni Muslim.

Times Square plot: Retired Pakistan Army Maj. Adnan Ahmad said Saturday that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing after Pakistani intelligence released him from custody in connection with the May 1 attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square. The main suspect, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, son of a former Pakistani air force officer, is being held by U.S. authorities.

Police blame Pakistani Taliban in attack on sect 05/29/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:21pm]
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