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An anti-terrorist police squad move to the compound of a police training school on the outskirts of Lahore, March 30, 2009. — AP

TANK Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Baitullah Mehsud on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack on the police training academy in Manwan and said his militant group will `expedite such assaults.` 

Mehsud contacted correspondents by phone from an undisclosed location and said that his group had carried out attack on Monday morning.

`We accept responsibility for the assault on the training centre in Manawan,` said the head of the banned TTP.

He added that President Zardari was `following US policies and allowing drone attacks` and vowed that the Taliban movement will expedite similar activities unless missile attacks are halted.

Usually, Mehsud`s spokesman Maulvi Omar speaks to the media and issues statements on his behalf, but this time Mehsud spoke to the media and claimed responsibility for the brazen attack.

The militant chief also owned up to carrying out a suicide attack at a Police Special Branch in Islamabad on March 23 and a roadside bomb explosion in Bannu on Monday. Seven people including five soldiers were killed in the explosion. However, he denied any involvement in the bombing at a mosque in Khyber tribal region in which 57 people were killed.

Mehsud said that these attacks have been carried out in reaction to the increase in number of drone attacks inside Pakistani territory,

The US State Department put Baitullah Mehsud on its most wanted list on March 25 and announced a $5mn bounty for capturing him.

Baitullah Mehsud is the second Pakistani be have been put on a wanted list by the US government after Mir Aimal Kasi, an inhabitant of Balochistan province.

Earlier the TTP chief was declared absconder by local courts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. 

Mehsud said he was not bothered about the reward on his head, saying `martyrdom is my mission and it will be a great honour if I achieve it.`

`The enemies should not ignore might of the Taliban and they will suffer in Washington when we target the White House,` he warned. He claimed the Taliban have the ability to carry out attacks in the US capital.

Mehsud vowed to continue attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan, for which, Taliban groups in North and South Waziristan had formed joint Shoora committees to continue their struggle in Afghanistan.

When asked if his men were behind the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, the TTP chief did not give a clear reply.

`I have yet to establish contact with the people and they (the people) not reached their destination,` he said. 

Staff correspondent Zulfiqar Ali contributed to this report from Peshawar.