ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban Thursday threatened to attack Myanmar to avenge crimes against the Muslim Rohingya, unless Pakistan halts all relations with the government and shuts its embassy in Islamabad.
In a rare statement focused on the plight of Muslims abroad, the umbrella Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) group sought to present itself as a defender of Muslim men and women in Myanmar, saying “we will take revenge of your blood”.
Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan demanded that the Pakistani government halt all relations with Myanmar and close down its embassy in Islamabad.
“Otherwise we will not only attack Burmese interests anywhere but will also attack the Pakistani fellows of Burma one by one,” he said in a statement.
The Myanmar embassy in Islamabad was not immediately reachable for comment.
The TTP frequently claims attacks on security forces in Pakistan but its ability to wage violence in countries further afield has been questioned.
But US officials say there is evidence the group was behind a failed 2010 attempt to bomb Times Square in New York, for which Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad was jailed for life.
TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud has also been charged in the United States over the killings of seven CIA agents who died when a Jordanian al Qaeda double agent blew himself up at a US base in Afghanistan in December 2009.
Recent clashes in western Myanmar between Buddhist ethnic Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya have left dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless.
Last week, Amnesty International said hundreds of people, mostly men and boys, have been detained in sweeps of areas heavily populated by the Rohingya, with almost all held incommunicado and some ill-treated.
Most arrests appear to have been “arbitrary and discriminatory” and Amnesty said there were “credible reports” of abuses, including rape, destruction of property and unlawful killings, by both Rakhine Buddhists and the security forces.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.