Pakistan arrests 97 militants in raids

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan has arrested 97 Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e- Jhangvi (LeJ) militants, including three commanders, in the southern city of Karachi and foiled a planned attack to break the killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl out of jail, the army said yesterday.

The men are accused of involvement in major attacks on two Pakistani air bases, the Karachi airport, several regional intelligence headquarters and police installations between 2009 and last year, the military said.

The LeJ's Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, as well as Farooq Bhatti, deputy chief of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were captured by Pakistani forces in recent raids, military spokesman Asim Bajwa said.

"Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks," he told a news conference.

The LeJ and AQIS had been colluding with the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taleban, he said.

Lt-Gen Bajwa declined to give details of the raids, including their timing. Several of those arrested, including Bokhari, had been in the advanced stages of planning a jailbreak attempt on the Hyderabad central jail, he said.

Khalid Omar Sheikh, who kidnapped and killed the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl in 2002, is being held at that jail and was to be released during the raid, he said.

Six suicide bombers had been enlisted in the attack plan, as well as 19 involved in facilitating it, Lt-Gen Bajwa said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Pakistan arrests 97 militants in raids'. Print Edition | Subscribe