Continuing a wave of terror strikes in Pakistan, a Taliban suicide bomber flung himself on a troop convoy in a crowded market in Shangla area of restive northwest killing 41 people as the group warned of carrying out fresh attacks in the coming days.
A suicide bomber blew himself up near a security forces vehicle as it was passing through a security check post in the market at Alpuri killing 41 people, including six securitymen and wounding 50 others, police said.
This was the fourth major strike by the Taliban in a week and came just two days after the terrorists carried out a brazen storming of the Pakistani Army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
"The troop convoy was the target," a local official said, claiming that five more paramilitary personnel were wounded, some of them seriously in the attack. Most of the others killed were civilians.
The Taliban main spokesman Azam Tariq claimed responsibility for the attack. He also owned up the groups hand in the 22-hour siege of the Pakistan's heavily fortified Army General Headquarters.
His threats came as three more army commando's part of the rescue mission at the Army citadel succumbed to their wounds, raising the death toll in the raid to 22, including 11 security personnel.
Tariq said the strike on the army's headquarters was only the first planned series of attacks to avenge the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Threatening the Army against its planned offensive on the Pakistani Taliban heartland of South Waziristan, the spokesman said the adventure would be the undoing of the Pakistan Army.
Tariq claimed that the frontal assault on the Army headquarters was undertaken by a Punjabi faction of the militant group and instructions had been passed on to other such militant branches across Pakistan to launch similar operations.
The claim of involvement of Punjabi militants in the attack could be a sign that Taliban has forged links with other groups in Pakistan, outside their stronghold of Pashtun dominated areas.
The Army however, official sources said was going ahead with its plan to storm into Waziristan to flush out an estimated 10,000 Taliban, Uzbeks and al-Qaeda fighters holed up in the region.
In a run up to an apparent military campaign, Pakistani air force jets bombed suspected Taliban hideouts in Bajaur area of the NWFP, adjacent to Waziristan, killing eight militants.
The Pakistani military today said the main aim of a militant attack on army headquarters was to take top officers hostage and use them to negotiate the release of 100 jailed comrades.
Military spokesman Athar Abbas told reporters today that the militants who launched the weekend attack came from the area of South Waziristan. PTI