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Central & South Asia
Lahore mosque assault suspects held
Six people arrested and weapons cache seized in connection with deadly attack, police say.
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2010 15:39 GMT
The Ahmadi mosque assault was the deadliest of a spate of attacks to strike Lahore recently [AFP]

Pakistani police have arrested six people allegedly linked to attacks on two mosques in May that killed at least 80 people in Lahore.

Authorities said on Monday that they seized almost 18 tonnes of explosives, 21 grenades, six-47s and a lot of bomb-making material from the the group.

Aslam Tareen, Lahore's police chief, said the suspects were running "a sort of bomb-making factory".

He said four of the suspects provided logistical support to the attackers by purchasing motorcycles, cell phones and SIM cards.

On May 28, 2010, attackers and suicide bombers stormed two mosques belonging to the minority Ahmadi sect in Lahore shortly after Friday prayers.

It was the deadliest attack on Pakistan's second biggest city.

Tareen said the arrested suspects belong to the banned armed group Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami, as do those who carried out the attacks.

Just days after the Ahmadi mosques were attacked, suicide bombers struck a Sufi shrine in eastern Lahore, killing at least 42 people and injuring about 180 others.

Thousands of people were visiting the Data Darbar shrine, where the famous Sufi saint Syed Ali Hajwairi is buried, at the time of the attack on Thursday.

'Taliban commander killed'

The Lahore arrests were announced on the same day that authorities said a Pakistani Taliban commander with a $234,000 bounty on his head had been killed in a shootout with troops in the country's northwest.

Ameerullah Mehsud was one of the high-level commanders of the group, military officials said.

He was reportedly shot dead at a checkpoint in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

In Depth

 

  Riz Khan: Battling religious extremism
  Riz Khan: Pakistan's violent frontier
  Riz Khan: Pakistan's political landscape
  Riz Khan: Pakistan - Heading to civil war?
  Inside Story: Pakistan: A new wave of attacks?
  People & Power: Breeding discontent
  Focus: Caught in the crossfire

Mehsud was listed 11 out of 19 most-wanted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders for whom the government last November posted combined rewards worth $5 million for information leading to their capture, dead or alive.

The TTP is blamed for some of the deadliest bomb attacks in the country.

Mehsud was wanted for attacking security forces, kidnapping for ransom and "other anti-state activities", the authorities said.

"Two soldiers were also wounded in the shootout," the Pakistan military said in a statement.

In a second incident on Monday in the country's northwest, security officials said, a suicide car bomber shot at guards and detonated his explosives at the gate of a paramilitary base, killing one soldier and wounding at least seven other people.

The bomber first tried to force his way into the base by shooting at troops and policemen guarding the gate, Major Suleman Khan, a spokesman for the Frontier Corps, said.

He blew himself up after realising he could not penetrate the base, he said.

Second bomber

The guards killed a second suicide car bomber, preventing him from detonating his explosives, and also killed two suicide bombers who were on foot, Khan said.

The blast from the first bomber killed one soldier, the Pakistan army said in a statement.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press news agency.

Hafeez Ullah, who identified himself as a local Taliban commander, said the goal was to free Taliban fighters imprisoned at the base in Lower Dir district.

Source:
Agencies
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