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Central & South Asia
Pakistan bounties for Swat leaders
Government announces cash rewards for capture of 21 Taliban leaders.
Last Modified: 28 May 2009 14:10 GMT
The blast in Lahore on Wednesday left
at least 30 people dead [AFP]

Pakistan has offered a cash reward of tens of thousands of dollars for the arrest of Maulana Fazlullah, the Islamic religious leader said to be behind of the Taliban's campaign in the Swat valley.

While a bounty of $62,000 was announced for Fazullah's capture, the government on Thursday also pledged varying rewards to all those who help in tracking down 20 other Taliban leaders.

The government list included Muslim Khan, the Swat Taliban spokesman.

"People providing authentic information leading to the capture - dead or alive - of these individuals will receive a cash reward," said an announcement published in leading newspapers, along with mugshots of those wanted.

In the latest violence in Pakistan, two blasts in the city of Peshawar killed at least five people and injured dozens of others on Thursday.

Twin bombs ripped through a crowded market in the city which is located in the northwest of the country.

Shafqat Malik, a senior police investigator, said: "Two separate timed bombs were planted on motorbikes, which exploded in quick succession."

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Dead or alive

The government's announcement on the Taliban leaders asked "can the people who deprived mothers, sisters and daughters of their roofs and rendered them homeless in their own country be called Muslim and patriotic Pakistanis?"

In depth


 Pictures: Lahore bombing
 
Video: Bomber hits Lahore
 Diary: Imran Khan
 Riz Khan: Obama's 'AfPak' strategy
 Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan
 Interview: Asif Ali Zardari
 Q&A: The struggle for Swat
 Your views: Crisis in Swat
 The fight for northwest Pakistan
Talking to the Taliban
Pakistan's war
 Witness: Pakistan in crisis

"Such people are indeed killers of humanity and deserve punishment. Please decide yourself and help the government bring them to justice."

Pakistan's military has intensified its campaign against Taliban fighters in the North West Frontier Province's Swat valley in recent weeks.

The announcement of the bounties comes a day after an attack in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore killed at least 30 people and injured over 200 others.

Wednesday's suicide bombing flattened a police building and damaged offices belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency. 

Prior to the explosion, a white van pulled up near the police station and the ISI office and two armed men opened fire, witnesses said, before the bomb was detonated.

A huge crater marked the spot of the blast, which Sajjad Bhutta, a provincial government official, said was caused by 100 kilogrammes of explosive.

'Taliban claim'

On Thursday, the Taliban in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hakimullah Mehsud, a deputy to Pakistani Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud, told The Associated Press news agency in a telephone call that the suicide attack "was in response to the Swat operation where innocent people have been killed".

"Most people realise this is not going to be a short war. Pakistan and the army are in it for the long haul."

Ayaz Amir, a columnist at The News

A group calling itself Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab had earlier claimed responsibility for the bombing in a Turkish-language message posted on a Turkish website.

The group said the attack was related to the fight in Swat, according to the Site group, which monitors such websites.

The attack was the third in recent months on Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, which sits well away from the restive Afghan border region where the Taliban have established strongholds.

Officials have been quick to link the attack to the military's campaign in Swat.

Ayaz Amir, a columnist at The News, a Pakistani newspaper, told Al Jazeera: "I think most people realise this is not going to be a short war. Pakistan and the army are in it for the long haul.

"Even ordinary people on the street realise it as well and if they needed any more evidence, they could look to the large number of refugees who have come from different areas. People also realise how bad the situation is. I mean, what is the alternative? - there are none," he said.

Source:
Agencies
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