The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for two suicide bomb attacks in two different cities that have killed at least eight people, including a pro-government religious leader.
A spokesman for Hakimullah Mehsud, a local tribal Taliban chief, said that the Taliban carried out the attack inside the offices of the Jamia Naeemia religious school and mosque in Lahore, soon after Friday prayers.
The second attack, which took place a few minutes later, was a car bombing in the city of Nowshera in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Mehsud said that more attacks would be carried out if security forces did not stop their offensive against the Taliban.
Police said among those killed in Lahore when a lone suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the religious school was Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, a prominent religious leader known to oppose the Taliban.
|Naeemi had received death threats for some time [AFP]
"Unfortunately, [he] has been martyred," Pervez Rathore, Lahore's police chief, said.
Naeemi was critically wounded in Friday's blast and later died in hospital, Waqar Naeemi, his son, said.
Our correspondent said Naeemi had been receiving death threats for some time.
In recent weeks, Naeemi had headed several meetings of religious leaders to denounce Taliban fighters for carrying out suicide blasts, and voiced support for the military operation under way in Swat in NWFP.
He had passed a religious ruling (fatwa) declaring that suicide bombings were forbidden.
Officials accuse the Pakistan Taliban of being behind the spate of suicide attacks in the country, mainly in the northwest but also in Lahore, the main city in the eastern province of Punjab.
The blast in Nowshwera, about 100km from the capital, Islamabad, also took place at a mosque.
Five people were killed and 32 others were wounded in the car bombing, Abdullah Khan, the local police chief, said.
Some of the victims may have died on the way to hospital, he said.
Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, said the mosque in Nowshera was in a military area.
"The military pray side by side with the locals there, and many more casualties are expected.
"With the Pakistani military about to embark on another offensive against the Taliban, strategic and military thinkers are saying there will be more large-scale attacks across the country," he said.
At least two people died on Thursday in a gun battle between security forces and armed men in the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of NWFP.
The fighting occurred near the Pearl Continental hotel, which was hit by a suicide bomber on Tuesday.