Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud has claimed that the controversial American security firm Blackwater was behind the deadly bomb attack on a market in Peshawar that killed over 100 people.
Hakimullah questioned why the Taliban should target the public when it was capable of carrying out attacks in Islamabad and targeting the army’s General Headquarters.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, he claimed Blackwater and "Pakistani agencies" were involved in attacks in public places to discredit the militants.
A powerful car bomb exploded at a crowded market in Peshawar yesterday, killing more than 100 and injuring 200 more. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had earlier said it was behind an attack on the army's headquarters earlier this month. About 15 people were killed during that attack. A group of militants took nearly 50 people hostage before they were gunned down or blew themselves up. Reports in the Pakistani media have claimed that Blackwater has established a presence in the country by tying up with local security firms but these allegations have been rejected by the US administration. When Hakimullah was asked about the perception among people that militants are involved in attacks on public places, he said: "Our war is against the government and the security forces and not against the people. We are not involved in blasts." Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq, who was present along with Hakimullah, warned that the militants could target media organisations that are "defaming" the Taliban. North West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas have blamed militants for the blast in Peshawar. They said militants are targeting the people because they are facing defeat in South Waziristan tribal region, where the army has launched a major ground offensive.
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