LAHORE, PAKISTAN—Police on Saturday blamed the Pakistani Taliban for attacks that killed 93 people at two mosques belonging to a minority sect, and said the militants involved had trained in an Afghan border region where the U.S. wants Islamabad to mount an army operation.
The attacks against the Ahmadi community occurred minutes apart Friday in two neighbourhoods in the eastern city of Lahore. Two teams of gunmen, including some in suicide vests, stormed the mosques and sprayed bullets at worshippers while holding off police.
At least two of the seven attackers were captured, while some died in the standoff.
Local TV channels had been reporting that the Pakistani Taliban, or one of their affiliates, had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Senior police officer Akram Naeem in Lahore said their interrogation of one of the arrested suspects revealed that the gunmen were involved with the Pakistani Taliban, which has staged attacks across the country for years. The 17-year-old suspect told police that the men had trained in the North Waziristan tribal region.
“Our initial investigation has found that they all belong to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan,” or Pakistani Taliban movement, Naeem said. He said the suspect, “Abdullah alias Mohammad, was given terrorism training in Miran Shah” — the main city in the North Waziristan tribal region.
North Waziristan has long been filled with militant groups focused on battling U.S. and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan. But as the army has mounted operations against the Pakistani Taliban elsewhere in the lawless tribal belt, many in the group, which has focused on attacking Pakistan, have since set up shop in North Waziristan.
That has given the U.S. more ammunition to pressure Islamabad to launch an operation there, whereas in the past Pakistani officials had tried to avoid taking on the web of militants in that northwest region.