Baitullah Mehsud Behind Bombings in Rawalpindi

Investigators say Mehsuds behind Rawalpindi attacks
By Azaz Syed: Daily Times, September 6, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Preliminary investigations into Tuesday’s suicide attacks near General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi indicate that they were carried out by the Baitullah Mehsud group based in Waziristan, sources told Daily Times on Wednesday.

Investigators found evidence that the bomb-hit bus belonged to the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), sources claimed. They said an investigation agency had recovered a small Russian-made device called MUV-2 from the bus. The device triggers the explosives when the suicide bomber pulls out a pin, they said.

Investigations from the Qasim Market blast scene suggest the device was not like the one used in Islamabad in July, but was similar to ones used in attacks on paramilitary forces by the Baitullah Mehsud group, the sources said.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Tariq Pervez confirmed that the device was similar to the ones used in suicide attacks in Peshawar, Charsada, Dera Ismail Khan and at a Mosque in Kohat on July 19.

“Yes, in my assessment, the Baitulluh Mehsud group conducted the attacks,” the FIA director general said. Intelligence agencies have not yet collected evidence from the scene of the blast at RA Bazaar, the sources said.

Agencies add: Interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said the bombers had suspected links to pro-Taliban militants backed by Al Qaeda.

Investigators are focusing on Baitullah Mehsud, he said. “No one has claimed responsibility but several previous attacks were linked to Baitullah Mehsud.”

Security sources said the two attackers may have been remaining members of a seven-member team of bombers, some allegedly sent by Mehsud, that infiltrated Islamabad and Rawalpindi for Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations.

Five were arrested in recent weeks “but there is a fear that the two others may have carried out the latest attacks,” a security official said. Rebels from the tribal areas recently sent suicide bombers to Rawalpindi and Islamabad, an official said. “We got this information from some people who were caught recently, and who were from North and South Waziristan,” he added.

There were conflicting reports about the identity of the victims. Intelligence officials said the bus was carrying ISI members but Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that 18 civilian and military employees died in the blast.

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