Ministry points finger at Baitullah

March 05, 2008

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ISLAMABAD, March 4: Interior Ministry spokesman Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema indicated on Tuesday that Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud might be involved in the suicide attack on the Navy College in Lahore, and said that involvement of a foreign hand could also not be ruled out.

Talking to Dawn, the spokesman said the Lahore attack appeared to be part of a series of suicide bombings taking place in the country. “Now it has been realised that there is no use of dialogue with militants and the government has to go for a ‘major offensive’ to crush them,” he said.

The spokesman said a recent suicide attack on a Jirga in Darra Adamkhel was a clear massage from the militants that they did not want to resolve any issue with the government through dialogue.

Giving details about Tuesday’s attack, he said the suicide bomber had used an explosive-laden vehicle.

Earlier in his weekly press briefing, he had said the suicide bomber was driving a Suzuki car which he rammed into a coaster of the college.

Brig Cheema said no officer of the college was injured or killed because they were inside the main building and the blast had taken place far away from the main campus. “All local and foreign students of the college are also safe,” he said.

He said that according to the initial investigation, it was a suicide attack. The spokesman denied reports that more than one blast had taken place within the periphery of the college.

“There were some subsequent explosions, but they were not suicide attacks. These blasts occurred when a petrol tank and gas cylinders lying in the transport section of the college exploded after the suicide attack,” he said.