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Archive for Sunday, June 14, 2009

Backers mourn cleric; Taliban claim attacks

June 14, 2009

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— Supporters of a popular moderate cleric mourned his assassination in one of several suicide bombings for which the Taliban claimed responsibility Saturday to retaliate for a Pakistani military offensive against extremists.

But instead of sowing fear and dissension, the attacks appear to be contributing to a growing wave of anti-Taliban sentiment, particularly the bombing at a seminary Friday that killed Sarfraz Naeemi. The cleric had called the militants murderers, condemned suicide attacks as un-Islamic and backed the ongoing operations in the Swat Valley region.

His death sparked a general strike that virtually shut down Karachi, the country’s commercial center. About 200 activists of Jamat Ahle Sunnat, a moderate Muslim sect, staged a mock funeral procession for the Taliban, burning one in effigy as they chanted “Down with the Taliban; Taliban, the enemy of Islam; death for the killers of Sarfraz Naeemi.”

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