Pakistani gets 26 years in jail for hoax bomb threats

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) - A Pakistani man was sentenced to 26 years in jail for making two hoax calls to police claiming he had planted bombs in crowded public places, prosecutors said on Saturday.

Mohammad Yousuf, who is in his 30s, made the calls in July in the central city of Multan, telling police that he had placed bombs in a market and a busy children's park.

Police, bomb disposal experts and rescue workers were forced to rush to the scene at the time but found nothing.

"Yousuf confessed and was sentenced to 26 years in jail for both the bogus calls and fake information," Ashfaq Malik, Multan's deputy prosecutor-general, told AFP.

Police said Yousuf used the sim card of one of his friends, whom he wanted to entrap because of business rivalry.

Police in August traced the sim card and arrested both Yousuf and his friend.

Judge Sajjad Sheikh announced the verdict in a Multan anti-terror court on Wednesday and it was publicised by prosecutors on Saturday.

Sheikh Saeed, another government prosecutor and a police official in Multan, confirmed the verdict.

Pakistan has ramped up its anti-terror strategy in the wake of the December 16 slaughter at an army-run school in Peshawar, where 134 children were among the victims gunned down by heavily-armed Taleban militants.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also said on Thursday that the country will set up military courts for terror-related cases, as part of an ambitious anti-terrorism plan.

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