CAIRO, Egypt, (AP) – A Web posting purportedly by al-Qaeda Thursday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack near Denmark’s embassy in Pakistan that left six people dead.
The statement said Monday’s bombing fulfilled the promise of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden to exact revenge for Danish papers reprinting a cartoon of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The attack in Islamabad was a “warning to this infidel nation and whoever follows its example,” said the message carried on a Web site frequently used by the Islamic militants.
Denmark “published the insulting drawings,” it said, adding that the European country later “refused to apologize for publishing them. Instead they repeated their act.”
Though officials investigating Monday’s attack, have not confirmed the terror group’s role, Danish authorities have said al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates was likely behind it. There have been no arrests.
The bomb detonated outside the embassy and also wounded at least 35 people. It damaged the embassy building as well as nearby offices and cars.
The statement was signed by an al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed and dated Tuesday, but its authenticity couldn’t immediately be verified.
Many suicide bombings in Pakistan are believed to have been planned in its semiautonomous tribal regions along the Afghan border, where al-Qaeda and Taliban militants have found sanctuary and which are the focus of peace efforts.
The statement said the attack was carried out by an al-Qaeda martyr and thanked Pakistani jihadists who helped prepare and execute the plot.
The attack boosted concerns that Pakistan’s efforts to strike peace deals with militants along the Afghan border are failing to curb Islamic extremist violence. Washington has also expressed concerns that the two-month-old Pakistani government’s efforts to negotiate with some armed groups in the northwest could give al-Qaeda and Taliban hard-liners time to regroup and intensify attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The bombing was the worst anti-Danish attack since the Muhammad cartoons first appeared.
In early 2006, a dozen Muhammad cartoons, originally published in a Danish newspaper, triggered fiery protests in Muslim countries when they were reprinted by a range of European media. The drawing showing Muhammad wearing the bomb-shaped turban appeared again in Danish newspapers Feb. 13, after Danish police said they foiled an alleged plot to murder the cartoonist who drew it.
Renewed protests followed the reprinting, though not as large or widespread as those in 2006. In March, bin Laden warned in an audio recording posted on a militant Web site of a “severe” reaction against Europe over the cartoon’s republishing.
Muslims widely see the cartoons as an insult and depicting the prophet as violent. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.