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Taliban planning Pakistan attacks

On guard in Pakistan.

On guard in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD — Gunmen kidnapped the son of a former Pakistani prime minister today as a letter from the leader of the Pakistani Taliban revealed plans for suicide bomb attacks on election day.

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, in a message to the group’s spokesman, outlined plans for the attacks, including suicide blasts, in all four of the country’s provinces on polling day on Saturday.

“We don’t accept the system of infidels which is called democracy,” Mehsud said in the letter, dated May 1, and obtained by Reuters today.

Since April, the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 100 people in attacks on election candidates and rallies, particularly those of secular-leaning parties, in a bid to undermine elections they regard as un-Islamic.

The polls, already Pakistan’s most violent, will mark the first time a civilian government has completed a full term and handed over to another administration.

The attacks have prevented candidates from the three main parties in the ruling coalition from holding big rallies. Instead, they have relied on door-to-door campaigning or small meetings in homes or on street corners.

Gunmen kidnapped the son of Yusuf Raza Gilani, former prime minister and stalwart of the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party, as he headed for a small political gathering in the central city of Multan, police said.

Ali Haider Gilani’s secretary and guard were shot dead in the attack.

“If we don’t get my brother by this evening I will not let the elections happen in my area,” said his brother, Musa, in televised comments.

Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan denied responsibility in a telephone call to Reuters.

The Pakistan Taliban are blamed for many of the suicide bombings across the country, a nuclear-armed strategic ally of the United States.

But they have not attacked the main opposition party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has courted support from groups accused of supporting militancy.

Sharif, who is seen as favourite to become the next prime minister, says Pakistan should reconsider its support for the US war on Islamist militancy and suggests he would be in favour of negotiations with the Taliban. (Reuters)

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