Pakistan arrests suspected plotter of Mumbai attacks
Pakistani security personnel have arrested the alleged planner of the November 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks in a raid on a suspected militant camp, media reports and officials said on Monday, dpa reported.
Scores of troops stormed the camp on Sunday just outside Muzaffarabad city, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, arresting at least half a dozen people, a security official said on condition of anonymity.
The official said the soldiers also traded fire at the camp located in the Shawai area, but added that the resistance was "short-lived."
He refused to give information about the arrested people, citing sensitivity of the issue. However, media reports identified one of the detainees as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhwi, who was named by Indian officials for planning the grenade-and-gun strikes in Mumbai.
According to Indian officials, Ajmal Amir Kasav, the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, told investigators that Lakhwi was the alleged ringleader in the Mumbai siege.
The Dawn newspaper reported that Lakhwi, a commander of banned Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was among the more than 20 people arrested in the late afternoon operation.
There were conflicting figures regarding the people taken into custody. According to Geo News television channel, eight people were arrested.
Pakistani military's public relations directorate confirmed the crackdown in a brief press statement.
"This is an intelligence-led operation against banned militant outfits and organizations. There have been arrest and investigations are on," it said, without identifying those apprehended.
"Further details will be available on completion of preliminary inquiries," the statement added.
Dawn quoted an unidentified woman living in the area as saying that she saw an army helicopter hovering over the area and at around 5 pm, two or three loud explosions were also heard.
Ambulances from various hospitals in Muzaffarabad were also called to the camp site, but no casualties were evacuated during the operation.
The newspaper said the camp was used by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity wing of (LeT).
Jamaat-ud-Dawa previously claimed it had no connection with the LeT and was focusing on religious and charitable work.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who headed the LeT in 2002 when it was outlawed after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Indian parliament in New Delhi, criticized the weekend raid, Geo News said.
The news channel cited him as saying that "the operation in Kashmir under Indian pressure was uncalled for and a sign of weakness."
Indian claims of the involvement of Pakistani based militants to the Mumbai bloodshed increased tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, who have gone to war three times since they both gained independence from Britain 61 years ago.
Pakistan has vowed to take action against those behind Mumbai attacks, which left more than 170 killed and over 300 injured, if and when India provided evidence for the allegations.
Islamabad is under great international pressure to urgently address India's concerns.
"I made very clear to the Pakistanis that we are a friend," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "But when something like this happens, the United States expects Pakistan to act."