Taliban Claims Pakistan U.N. Agency Attack

Militants Say Suicide Bomber Hit World Food Program Because Relief Work Not in “the Interest of Muslims”

In other words if Muslims see the kuffar, the infidel, doing good works it makes them question their hatred for all things Western or American.

CBS NEWS…Taliban militants claimed responsibility Tuesday for the deadly suicide bombing at the U.N. food agency’s heavily fortified compound in Islamabad, saying international relief work in Pakistan was not in “the interest of Muslims.”

The attack, which killed five workers for the World Food Program on Monday, pushed the U.N. to temporarily close its offices in the country and exposed the vulnerability of many international relief agencies working to provide aid to millions of civilians affected by the fight between the government and Islamic militant groups.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik accused the Taliban of carrying out the attack to avenge the Aug. 5 slaying of their leader Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone attack.

Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq confirmed his group was behind the bombing in a phone conversation with The Associated Press and lashed out at foreign aid workers here.

“We proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide attack at the U.N. office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks,” he said. “The U.N. and other foreign (aid groups) are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels.”

He added that the Taliban would not target Muslim relief groups.

Tariq said the Taliban’s future targets would include Pakistani security officials, government offices and American installations.

World Food Program spokesman Amjad Jamal defended the agency’s work as “totally humanitarian.”

“We provide food. Our food is for the vulnerable groups, the poor groups who cannot afford one meal a day,” he said.

The suicide bomber was dressed Monday as a security officer and was allowed to enter the World Food Program offices — apparently bypassing the normal security procedures — after asking the guards outside if he could used the bathroom.

After the attack, the U.N. announced it was temporarily closing all its offices in Pakistan, but said its Pakistani partner organizations would continue distributing food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance. The world body said it would reassess the situation over the next several days.

Malik, who was visiting those injured in the bombing at a Pakistani hospital, said the government had taken several of the guards outside the U.N. offices into custody for questioning as part of the investigation into the security lapse.

“All the security arrangements were in place at the U.N. office,” he said.

The United Nations considers itself a major target in Pakistan. Many of its offices are surrounded by 12-foot-high blast walls. Its staff members are driven in bulletproof cars and not allowed to bring their families with them on assignment in the country.

The World Food Program compound, which employs more than 70 people, is surrounded by square metal cages filled with sand and small stones used to protect against blasts and projectiles.

“This was one of the best-protected U.N. centers in all of Pakistan,” U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters at the world body’s headquarters in New York. “We were really quite heavily guarded at least at that compound. How that person got in — that is still being investigated, and we’re trying to find out from surveillance cameras.”

The U.N. closed its offices in the country until its security team determined it was safe for them to reopen.

“They will assess the situation. They are talking to the authorities and then they will decide on a further course of action,” Jamal said.

Extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq seeking to attack high-profile Western targets have shown no hesitation in striking foreign humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations, regardless of the work they are doing in relieving the suffering in the countries. A blast in June on a luxury hotel housing many foreign aid workers in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed two U.N. staffers and wounded others.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said those killed in the bombing Monday were serving a “noble cause.”

“They will be remembered for their commendable services by the people of Pakistan,” Gilani wrote in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon, according to state-run media. “Such cowardly terrorist acts will never weaken our resolve to fight against this scourge. We will continue to work with the international community and the United Nations with greater vigor to root out terrorism from our country and the region at large.”

The attack came a day after the new Pakistani Taliban leader met reporters close to the Afghan border, vowing more attacks in response to U.S. missile strikes on militant targets in Pakistan. Ending speculation he had been killed, Hakimullah Mehsud denied government claims the militants were in disarray and said his fighters would repel any army offensive on their stronghold in South Waziristan.

Malik said the government was already targeting Taliban militants in South Waziristan and “if needed, a further action shall also be taken at an appropriate time” against militants in other areas along the Afghan border.

“We will fight all of them,” he said, referring to the militant groups.

Shortly after the blast on Monday, a Pakistani security official told CBS News’ Farhan Bohkari the attack appeared to be linked to the Taliban, and may have been timed to coincide with an expected military campaign in the country’s lawless border region with Afghanistan.

Special Report: Afghanistan, The Road Ahead

“The Taliban may be launching a bombing campaign ahead of the action in Waziristan which is likely to happen very soon,” the official told Bokhari.

Also Tuesday, militants kidnapped four employees from the customs department as they traveled in the northwestern district of Hangu, said Mohammed Islam, a local police chief.

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