- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTAN (AP) - The top Pakistani Taliban commander said Tuesday that his group had carried out the deadly assault on a police academy in eastern Pakistan, and he vowed to launch an attack on the U.S. capital.

Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S., said the Pakistan Taliban was planning a terrorist assault against Washington D.C.

“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world,” Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone.

Mehsud and other Pakistan Taliban militants are believed to be based in the country’s lawless tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan, where they have stepped up their attacks throughout Pakistan.

The Pakistan Taliban leader also claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed four soldiers Monday in Bannu district and a suicide attack targeting a police station in Islamabad last week that killed one officer.



Such attacks pose a major test for the weak, year-old civilian administration of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that has been gripped with political turmoil in recent weeks.

The gunmen who attacked a police academy in Lahore on Monday killed seven police and two civilians, holding security forces at bay for about eight hours before being overpowered by Pakistani commandos. Some of the attackers wore police uniforms, and they took hostages and tossed grenades during the assault.

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