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The Taliban claimed responsibility for a Feb. 2 suicide attack that killed 23 people in the northwestern city of Lakki Marwat. But Mohammad Shafi, whose 24-year-old son was among nine soldiers killed in the explosion, isn’t convinced the attackers were members of the Taliban. He says Muslims would never hurt a fellow Muslim.
Instead, Shafi thinks his son — a boxer who never lost a fight before he was shot seven times during the attack on an army post — was killed by Hindu agents that archrival India sent, with U.S. assistance, to destabilize Pakistan. He said Pakistan should sever ties with the U.S. to abolish terrorism.
"If my son was killed by infidels, he has been martyred and will go to heaven," he said.
Confusion over who is responsible for the deadly violence also has some victims wondering if the Pakistani government makes peace with the Taliban, will it also make peace with other militant groups.
Will the government, for instance, hold talks with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a group linked to al-Qaida that is accused of killing more than 175 Shiite Muslims during the past two months in the southwestern city of Quetta?
Ghazanfar Ali lost his 24-year-old son in one of these attacks on Jan. 10 in Quetta. Another of his sons survived the same attack after three major surgeries.
Ali broke down in tears as he recalled sifting through rubble and identifying his son’s body by the ring he had on his finger because his head and face were wounded beyond recognition.
"There can’t be peace with the Taliban," he said. "They slaughter a son in front of his father and then chant ‘God is great!’"
Associated Press writers Riaz Khan and Rasool Dawar in Peshawar; Zaheer Babar in Lahore; Abdul Sattar in Quetta; and Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan contributed to this report.
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