Seven members of a banned militant group with links to al Qaeda and the Taliban were arrested with explosives and narcotics over the weekend in Karachi, Pakistan, and their planned attacks were thwarted, authorities said.
The group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned in 2001, was planning to conduct attacks in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, according to Police Chief Waseem Ahmad. The suspects were arrested in Karachi on Sunday. “In January 1999, the group attempted to assassinate former (Pakistani) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” the U.S. State Department Web site says. A suicide bomber who killed former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto nearly two years ago was reported to be a member of the Sunni Muslim militant group. The group also is suspected in an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore in March. Separately, five suspected members of the Pakistan Taliban also were arrested Sunday in Karachi, said Mohammed Fayyaz Khan, the city’s police superintendent. Suicide vests and a large quantity of ammunition were seized in those arrests, he said. Pakistani security forces have been battling a strong Taliban presence in the volatile North West Frontier Province and an adjacent tribal region. Taliban militants maintained strongholds within 100 miles of the capital, Islamabad, before Pakistani security forces pushed them back this year. The news came as the country’s interior minister said Pakistani forces in the last month foiled a planned attack on the parliament building, intelligence agency and other federal institutions.