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Anti-Pakistan Groups Terroris 12/02 06:17

   

   ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The United States has added a key anti-Pakistani militant 
group and its al-Qaida branch to its list of "global terrorists," triggering 
sanctions against the groups amid a resurgence of militant violence in this 
Islamic nation.

   Both groups operate from Afghanistan, but they have hideouts in Pakistan's 
former tribal regions in the northwest and elsewhere as well.

   Thursday's announcement by the State Department comes days after the 
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, known as TTP, ended a monthslong ceasefire with 
Pakistan and resumed attacks across the country.

   The threat issued by the TTP forced Pakistani authorities to take additional 
measures, and security was tight on orders from the Interior Ministry outside 
worship and other public places Friday amid fears of more attacks. TTP has 
asked its fighters to target security forces across the country. Pakistani 
Taliban were behind the 2014 attack on a Peshawar school that killed 147 
people, mostly schoolchildren.

   The State Department said that on Wednesday it designated TTP and al-Qaida 
in the Indian Subcontinent as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists."

   The agency's statement said the U.S. is "committed to using its full set of 
counterterrorism tools to counter the threat posed by terrorist groups 
operating in Afghanistan, including al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) 
and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)" to keep militants from using Afghanistan 
as "a platform for international terrorism."

   "As a result of these actions," the statement said, "all property and 
interests in property of those designated (Thursday) that are subject to U.S. 
jurisdiction are blocked, and all U.S. persons are generally prohibited from 
engaging in any transactions with them."

   The United States also named four members of TTP and al-Qaida in the Indian 
Subcontinent Osama Mehmood, the head of the al-Qaida branch, Yahya Ghouri, the 
deputy chief of al-Qaida's branch, and Muhammad Maruf, who is responsible for 
recruitment for the group.

   It also designated TTP's leader, Qari Amjad, who oversees militant attacks 
in northwest Pakistan.

   In a statement, TTP denounced the U.S. measures, describing it as a "sad" 
announcement. It asked Washington not to interfere in the affairs of other 
countries. The group said it did not need the use of Afghan soil for attacks in 
Pakistan, where the TTP claimed it enjoyed the backing of tribal people.

   The latest measures by the State Department come days after Pakistan's new 
army chief, Gen. Asim Munir, took command of the military amid a spike in 
militant attacks on security forces and police in the country. He replaced 
Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired on Nov. 29 after completing his six-year 
extended term as the army chief.

   One of the key challenges faced by Gen. Munir is how to respond to the 
threat from TTP.

   In a statement, Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said 
CENTCOM chief Gen. Erik Kurilla spoke via video teleconference with Gen. Munir 
to congratulate him on his new position. He said the two leaders discussed 
U.S.- Pakistan security cooperation efforts and strengthening the bilateral 
relationship.

   Al-Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALs operation 
in May 2011 in his hiding place in the garrison city of Abbottabad, not far 
from the capital of Islamabad, and TTP emerged after Pakkistan became a key 
ally of the United States in its war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

   There was no immediate comment from Pakistan, but the latest development 
comes after Islamabad asked the Taliban in Afghanistan to prevent TTP from 
using their soil for attacks inside the Islamic nation. The demand from 
Pakistan came after a suicide bomber dispatched by TTP blew himself up near a 
truck carrying police assigned to protect polio workers in Quetta, the capital 
of southwestern Baluchistan province.

   TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has drawn nationwide 
condemnation.

   The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allied with Afghanistan's 
Taliban, who have ruled their country since the U.S. and NATO troops withdrew 
last year. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan emboldened their Pakistani 
allies, whose top leaders and fighters are hiding in the next door country.

 
 
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