Pakistan's military has launched more attacks against the Taliban, as
supporters of a prominent cleric demonstrated against the militant
Pakistani warplanes pounded militant hideouts throughout the northwest
Saturday, following two suicide bombings a day earlier that killed at
least seven people, including Sarfraz Naeemi, a moderate cleric and
outspoken critic of the Taliban.
Thousands of Naeemi's supporters took to the streets of Lahore and
Karachi Saturday to mark his funeral, chanting "death to the
Mujahideen." Others beat and burned an effigy of a Taliban insurgent.
Military officials say at least seven militants were killed in the air
strikes targeting the South Waziristan tribal region, where
Taliban-linked militant leader Baitullah Mehsud is based.
Mehsud's group has claimed responsibility for the bombings. Hours after
the attacks, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari went on TV, warning
Pakistan was fighting the Taliban for its very existence and vowed to
fight them "to the end."
In addition to Friday's attacks on mosques in the eastern city of
Lahore and the northwestern town of Nowshera, a spokesman for Mehsud
also claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bombing of Peshawar's Pearl
Continental hotel that killed nine people.
Pakistan has been hit by a series of attacks that some officials
suspect are revenge for a government offensive against militants in the
northwestern region of Swat Valley.
The military launched the offensive in late April after Taliban
militants violated a peace deal and advanced to within 100 kilometers
of the capital, Islamabad.
U.S. officials say Pakistan is planning a new offensive in South
Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan. But Pakistan's government has
yet to formally announce a military operation in the tribal region.
Saturday, police said an officer was killed and at least eight others
wounded when a roadside bomb hit a prison van in the northwestern town