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“We always regret that and seek pardon, but it happens in the war. It sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate between the enemy and innocent people in the crowd.”

Audrey Kurth Cronin, a professor at the National War College in Washington, said she has “mixed feelings” about giving media exposure to terrorist leaders because something that can horrify a Western audience can inspire terrorism elsewhere.

However, when told of Umar’s remarks about children memorizing the Koran and then volunteering to blow themselves up, she said:

“If he says he’s seeking kids to become suicide bombers, I don’t think that would be very inspirational to most Pakistanis.”

Willis Witter contributed to this report from Washington.