(dpa) - Islamic militants operating in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas may be targeting suicide bomb attacks against Pakistani political figures and American and British diplomats, a local report said Wednesday.
The reported warning from Pakistani intelligence agencies came as as the US director of national intelligence told a Senate panel in Washington DC that al-Qaeda was gaining strength from safe havens inside the tribal areas, under the protection of local Taliban warlords, and was improving its ability to recruit, train and position operatives to carry out attacks inside the United States.
According to a Pakistani intelligence report, Taliban leaders have formed a group of seven to eight young men from Waziristan within the tribal areas to carry out suicide attacks, all of whom were named in the report, Dawn, a leading English-language newspaper, reported.
Prominent political figures, including prominent members of the the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, which backs strongman President Pervez Musharraf, could be attacked using car bombs or suicide vests, according to Dawn.
Officials from Pakistan's Interior Ministry and the US and British embassies could not be reached for comment.
Taliban warlords and their al-Qaeda allies have been blamed for dozens of suicide bombings across Pakistan in the past year, mostly targeting security forces and political leaders, killing more than 800 people.
Musharraf has accused the militants of assassinating opposition leader Benazir Bhutto last December, saying they were attempting to topple his government or at least disrupt crucial forthcoming parliamentary elections on February 18.