Taliban claim responsibility for slaying cleric, recent attacks

The Taliban claimed responsibility Saturday for recent suicide attacks in Pakistan, including the assassination of a leading moderate cleric and the bombing of a Peshawar hotel frequented by foreigners. Thousands of people were expected to gather Saturday for the funeral of Sarfraz Naeemi, whose death in a blast at his seminary in Lahore triggered a wave of anger and revulsion toward militants in the country's cultural capital. Police said the bombing was a targeted assassination of the cleric, who recently had condemned suicide attacks as un-Islamic, denounced the Taliban as murderers and "a stigma on Islam." Taliban commander Saeed Hafiz claimed responsibility for the blasts at the seminary, hotel and in Noshehra on behalf of Tehrik-i-Taliban, the group headed by Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, local media reported.