Islamabad: The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on Wednesday claimed responsibility for three blasts, including two carried out by suicide attackers, on a Shi’ite procession in Lahore that killed 29 people and injured over 200.
The claim of responsibility was made by top Taliban leader Qari Hussain, who said militants had carried out three suicide blasts in Lahore.
Police officials, however, said the first blast was caused by a timed explosive device and the others by two suicide bombers.
"I, Qari Hussain, accept responsibility on behalf of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for the three suicide attacks in Lahore on the Shi’ite procession on the Hazrat Ali day on 1st September, 2010," said an audio statement sent to media by the Taliban.
The transcription of the audio message in English was also sent to the media through e-mail.
Hussain claimed the three blasts were carried out to avenge the killing Maulana Ali Shair Haidree "by Shi’ite extremists".
He said: "Maulana Ali Shair was brave, pious and an intellectual alim-e-deen (Islamic scholar)." He claimed "fidayeen" of the Taliban entered the Shi’ite procession "with great courage" and "offered their lives for the protection and revenge of our famous ulema".
Hussain warned the Taliban would carry out more attacks if the "killing of ulema (clerics) was not stopped". He added: "We will carry out such harsh attacks on them everywhere that they will not be able to live peacefully in the country."
Earlier, Geo News channel had reported that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi had claimed responsibility for the attacks in Lahore.
But Hussain said in his audio message: "I once again clear it that these attacks were done by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and not by any other organisation."
The three blasts at Karbala Gamay Shah and Bhatti Chowk killed 29 people and injured 213, officials said.
The procession was taken out to commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali, the fourth Muslim Caliph and one of Shia Islam`s most respected holy men.
The Punjab government called in paramilitary Pakistan Rangers to restore peace after an angry mob attacked a police station and burnt police vehicles.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attacks and said elements playing with the lives of innocent people would not escape the law of the land.