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Pakistani Taliban claim Karachi bombing

Pakistani Taliban claim Karachi bombing

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Wednesday for a bombing against a Shiite Muslim procession in the southern city of Karachi earlier in the week that killed 44 people.
Monday's attack in Pakistan's largest city was one of the clearest examples yet of the group's ability to strike far from its sanctuary in the northwest and determination to escalate its war against the state. Many analysts believe the Taliban have spared Karachi in the past because the militants used the city as a haven to rest and raise money.
A Taliban spokesman, Asmatullah Shaheen, told The Associated Press in a telephone call from an undisclosed location that the group had carried out Monday's attack, but did not give a motive.
"We claim responsibility for the attack on the Shiite procession," Shaheen said, adding that one of the group's men was sent to the southern port city the day before the procession to carry out the bombing.
President Asif Ali Zardari has speculated that the motive behind the attack was to spark sectarian conflict that could complicate the government's battle against the Pakistani Taliban.
The bombing sparked rioting that destroyed buildings and thousands of shops in central Karachi, causing millions of dollars of damage. Parts of Bolton Market, the country's largest wholesale market, were still smoldering on Wednesday.
It is unclear whether the Taliban carried out the bombing on its own or received help from other militant groups that officials say have a joint goal to destabilize Pakistan.
Pakistan has a history of violence between extremist elements among its majority Sunni Muslim and minority Shiite communities. Although the Taliban are not known for launching sectarian attacks, they have associations with Sunni militant groups that have targeted Shiites.
Karachi lawmaker Farooq Sattar said a Taliban strike against Karachi could be the latest retaliation for a major military offensive against the group's stronghold in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas in the northwest. More than 500 people have been killed in militant attacks since the army invaded South Waziristan in mid-October.
"When they see they are losing in the northwest, why wouldn't they turn to a new front?" Sattar said on Tuesday. "After all, they are fighting the battle for their survival."
The bombing occurred as thousands of Shiites marched through Karachi to mark the key holy day of Ashoura. The death toll rose to 44 on Wednesday after one of the dozens of people wounded died, said Hashim Raza, a senior health official in Karachi.


Updated : 2020-12-05 23:08 GMT+08:00