Nirupama Subramanian and Praveen Swami

Claims appear intended to deflect attention from LeT: sources

ISLAMABAD/PUNE: Even as Maharashtra police investigators said little progress was made in identifying the perpetrators of Saturday’s bombing of the German Bakery in Pune, an unknown Pakistan-based jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attack that claimed 10 lives.

Identifying himself as a spokesperson of a group calling itself the Lashkar-e-Taiba al-Almi, an individual using the code-name ‘Abu Jindal’ said the bombing was carried out because of India’s “refusal” to discuss the Kashmir issue in the coming talks with Pakistan.

‘Abu Jindal’ said he was calling from Miramshah in North Waziristan, and the telephone number used to make the call carried an area code common to the Waziristan tribal area and Bannu, the adjoining district in the North-West Frontier Province. When The Hindu tried calling back, though, a recorded voice message said the number was temporarily not in use.

No past communiqué was issued by the Lashkar-e-Taiba al-Almi, and terrorism experts in New Delhi told The Hindu that no such group was known to exist.

However, the caller — who appeared to be educated — said the group had split from the Lashkar-e-Taiba because it took orders from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

Earlier, al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist leader Illyas Kashmiri was reported to have sent an e-mail to a Pakistani journalist, claiming responsibility for the attack.

Indian intelligence sources said the claims appeared intended to deflect attention from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is emerging as the principal suspect. In the wake of the Lashkar’s November 2008 attack on Mumbai, Pakistan came under intense pressure to dismantle the terrorist group as well as its political-religious organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. It has, however, rejected international calls for such action. Despite official claims, Maharashtra police sources say there is little evidence as yet to link the bombing of the German Bakery with any perpetrator.

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