ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamatul Ahrar which claimed responsibility for this week's devastating suicide bombing on the Wagah border has said the attack was as much aimed at India as Pakistan.
At least 60 Pakistanis were killed during the popular flag-lowering ceremony on Sunday when the bomber tried to get as close as possible to the border.
The manner in which the attack was carried out could be viewed as a possible attempt to cause casualties on the Indian side as well.
In a tweet issued after the attack, the splinter group, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), said it was determined to attack both sides.
“This attack is an open message to both governments across the border,” TTP-JA spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in an Urdu-language message.
“If we can attack this side, the other side could also be attacked.”
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He also tweeted in English (which was later deleted): “You (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi) are the killer of hundreds of Muslims. We wl take the revenge of innocent people of Kashmir and Gugrat” (sic).
Gujrat, misspelt in the tweet, is a western Indian state where more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in inter-religious rioting in 2002, when Modi was its chief minister.
The authenticity of the tweets could not be immediately verified and then did not show on Ehsan's Twitter page as of Wednesday morning.
India has long accused Pakistani militants of trying to attack its targets, particularly after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed when gunmen went on a three-day rampage in India's financial capital.
Ehsan told Reuters however that the Sunday attack was specifically aimed at the Pakistani military.
TTP-JA is a new outfit that broke away from the mainstream Taliban movement in September and has announced its support for the Middle Eastern group Islamic State, whose belligerent anti-Western ideology has begun to inspire militants across South Asia.
Jamatul Ahrar's openly anti-Indian rhetoric differs from that of the mainstream Pakistani Taliban, who are mainly focused on their insurgency against Pakistani security forces in the volatile tribal northwest of the country.
Ehsan said that unlike the TTP's narrow focus on war in the tribal areas on the Afghan border, his outfit sought to attack countries around the region.
“The TTP focuses on Pakistan only, while we have a global agenda of jihad and therefore we have people from all over the world including the Arab and Western world for this mission.”
A successful attack on an Indian target would severely affect the already frosty relations between the two countries.
Shelling on their disputed Kashmir border is an almost daily occurrence, a constant reminder that a full-blown conflict is always a threat.
Further unnerving India, Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, said to be close to TTP-JA, has announced the creation of a South Asia wing of Al Qaeda, threatening to stage attacks on countries across the subcontinent.
The new group's first major attack was a botched attempt in September to hijack a Pakistani warship and attack a US navy vessel at a base near the port city of Karachi.
On Tuesday, India's navy withdrew two warships from the eastern port of Kolkata after intelligence agencies warned of an attack on the port and the city.