The Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for bombing the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad was up till now unheard of, but Pakistani intelligence eavesdropper heard Al-Qaeda operatives celebrating the attack. The group calling itself Fedayeen Islam (Partisans of Islam) made the claim of responsibility for Saturday’s suicide truck bombing that killed at least 60 people in a call to an Islamabad-based correspondent for Al-Arabiya, an Arab news channel.
“It’s either new, or it might be a distraction,” said a senior intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “What we do know is that there was a lot of celebration among the lower ranks of Al-Qaeda,” he said.
Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships killed 60 Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants near the Afghan border, just days after the Marriott Hotel was bombed, officials said yesterday. A soldier was also killed in two days of fierce clashes with Islamist fighters near the troubled northwestern city of Peshawar and separately in the volatile tribal frontier region of Bajaur.
In the biggest battle, troops on Monday launched a “search and cordon” operation to clear extremists from a strategic road tunnel and other hideouts in Dara Adam Khel, a restive region just outside Peshawar, the army said. Helicopter gunships and artillery are pounding the miscreants’ hide-outs. More than 50 miscreants have been killed so far and one soldier was also martyred.