We carried out Lahore attack: Mehsud
Lahore, March 31: The prime suspect in a terrorist assault on a police academy near Lahore has revealed that all his accomplices were Afghans and information provided by him has led to the arrest of some ‘local facilitators’, investigators said on Tuesday.
Gul Khan alias Ishrat Khan, a bearded man in his twenties, who was captured by Pakistan security forces while trying to target helicopters near the training centre yesterday, is an operative of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and came to Lahore a few months ago to carry out the attack, the officials probing the incident said.
“Khan belongs to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s group and came to Lahore from Afghanistan a few months ago. He carried out the attack with his fellow countrymen in connivance with local facilitators,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, who is part of the investigation team, said.
“Acting on information gleaned from Khan, we have taken some facilitators into custody during raids in different areas early this morning,” Sukhera said.
He said that there appeared to be only five attackers -– three blew themselves up to avoid capture, one managed to escape and the fifth one was Khan.
Khan and his accomplices had rented a house in Manawan, where the training centre is located, a couple of weeks ago to prepare for the attack.
Sukhera, who is part of the team investigating the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3 that left eight persons dead and injured over 20 others, said Taliban commander Mehsud was also involved in that incident.
“Our investigations so far reveal that a well-trained group of 10 to 12 terrorists came from Waziristan and completed their mission with the help of local facilitators.
“They managed to flee after the successful completion of their mission.” Mehsud’s involvement in “anti-Pakistan activities” had increased in recent times, he said.
At least eight police recruits and a civilian were killed and over 90 others injured in yesterday’s attack on the police training centre at Manawan on the outskirts of Lahore. The siege of the centre ended when the terrorists involved were killed or captured after an eight-hour operation.
Meanwhile, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief, Behtullah Mehsud on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the audacious attack on the Manawar police training centre in Lahore which killed 27 people.
The responsibility was claimed by Farukh Mehsud, a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud, and leader of an obscure outfit Fidayeen-e-Islami. In a statement, he warned of more such attacks if the military operation in Pakistan’s tribal areas is not halted.
On Monday, Pak Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed that fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud were behind the attack. He added that the plan was made in South Waziristan area which is in the grip of Taliban violence.
Albania, Croatia Formally Join Nato Alliance
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday formally welcomed Albania and Croatia as fully fledged allies, raising the total number of member states to 28, dpa reported.
“Today, Albania and Croatia have completed the accession process, and have joined the Alliance as members,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a statement.
“I warmly congratulate them on this historic achievement. In becoming NATO members, Albania and Croatia share the benefits and responsibilities of collective security,” the alliance’s chief said.
The statement came shortly after the ambassadors of the two Central European countries handed over the “instruments of accession” during a ceremony in Washington. The bureaucratic act completed a year-long process involving the ratification of their accession by existing NATO allies.
The move allows Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to join US President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders at the alliance’s 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, Baden Baden and Kehl on Friday and Saturday.
A flag-raising ceremony marking their accession is to be held at NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 7th.
“Albania and Croatia have worked very hard to meet alliance standards with regards to democracy and the state of their military,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said earlier in Brussels.
The two countries, which are also aspiring to become European Union member, received a formal invitation to join NATO at last year’s summit in Bucharest.
“We’ve reached a goal we have been striving for 20 years,” Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said.
Albanian Defence Minister Gazmend Oketa said his country’s membership would be “a positive card which will help Albania to more rapidly approach the European Union.”
“We don’t consider membership in NATO as a final station but as a constant work process with duties and responsibilities,” Oketa told the Albanian news agency ATA.
Croatia’s accession had been threatened until only last week by a prolonged border dispute with NATO member Slovenia. The issue was finally resolved on Friday, when Slovenian President Danilo Turk signed a law paving the way for its accession.
Both Croatia and Slovenia emerged as independent countries from former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Speaking in Brussels, Appathurai said Croatia and Albania had both “overcome what was a difficult period in Balkan history.”
Albania and Croatia are already contributing to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan, with 140 and 530 soldiers respectively.
Another member of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, has been prevented from joining the transatlantic alliance because of a name dispute with neighbouring Greece.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Croatia is becoming a full member of NATO at around 3pm when our ratification documents are stored in Washington, Croatia’s PM Sanader said.
ZAGREB, CROATIA – – Croatia will become a full member of NATO sometime after nine o’clock American Eastern Daylight Time, which is sometime after 5pm Croatian time, when our ratification instruments will be stored in Washington and at around 6pm I will speak with NATO Secretary-General by telephone – Croatia’s Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told a news conference in the government building on Wednesday.
He thanked all those who helped to achieve this Croatia’s foreign policy goal, primarily Croatian Homeland Defence War soldiers. As regards Croatia’s other goal, accession into the European Union, the prime minister said that EU’s enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn had cancelled his meeting with Croatian and Slovenian foreign ministers.
– I don’t know the reason. The meeting will be held after Easter, but today, Olli Rehn should be meeting the ‘Troika’, representatives of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden. We will see what will happen after that meeting. Perhaps it puts forward some new elements. We still insist on the separation of the two issues: the accession negotiations and the border dispute. I urge Slovenia to unblock negotiations on this day, when Croatia is entering NATO. I am not sure they will do so, but it would be really nice of them – Sanader concluded.
Noora, the brother of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, has died in Karachi, police sources said on Tuesday.
As per information received, Noora was reportedly suffering from a kidney ailment and died in Karachi where he has been buried, they said.
The brother of Dawood had fled from India prior to the 1993 serial blasts and was allegedly involved in handling the gangster’s links with the film industry.
However, his lawyer Rajeev Srivastav said Noora, whose official name is Noor-ul-Haq, had left the country around 1990 and died in Dubai.
“He was running a mall in Dubai and for the past fortnight had expressed interest in coming back to India to spend his last days here,” he said.
Srivastav claimed that Noora had sought to return to India in 2006 and had submitted his passport for renewal at the Indian Consulate in Dubai but was not given.
There were three cases of extortion pending against Noora in Mumbai courts and is also alleged to have been involved in the murder of a customs officer in 1998 in south Mumbai, Srivastav said.
He had also been named by an accused in a 2002 currency counterfeiting case in Delhi following which a notice had been issued by Interpol against him, he said.
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London Windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland were smashed amid clashes between the police and thousands of protesters who converged in London on Wednesday to vent public anger over economic meltdown, recession and climate change before world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gathered for the G-20 Summit.
The RBS is one of the beleaguered banks that has been rescued by millions of pounds of state funds. Protesters also converged on the Bank of England in thousands with slogans such as ‘Swindlers List’, ‘Financial Fools day and ‘Storm the Banks’.
A security officer was injured when a protester hit him with a large pole, while several people were arrested in various parts of London as world leaders prepared for the one-day G-20 summit that starts on Thursday.
The protests were mainly prompted by anger at bankers’ role in the global economic meltdown, resulting in job cuts and major losses in the value of savings and pensions. Protests were also held outside the US embassy against the war in Iraq.
The largest demonstration was held outside