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Pakistan arrests commander of group blamed for Mumbai attacks


Islamabad : Pakistani security forces have arrested operational commander of a banned group, blamed by India for Mumbai attacks, sources close to the group said on Monday.

India had blamed ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba” for attacks in its commercial center, which killed nearly 180 people and injured over 300.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is using new name ” Jamaat-ud-Daawa” after it was banned in 2002.

Zaki-ur-Rehamn Lakhvi, chief operational commander of the group was arrested during a crackdown launched by the Pakistan army near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s administered Kashmir on Sunday.

The lone survived attacker of the Mumbai operation has reportedly told Indian investigators that Zaki-ur-Rehamn Lakhvi had sent them for the attacks.

“The Pakistani security forces have raided our camp and have arrested some of our activists,” an official of the group said, requesting not be identified.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, now using new name ” Jamaat-ud-Daawa”, has denied any hand in the Mumbai attacks.

Sources said that the security forces launched crackdown against the group in Showai area, 5 kilometers from Muzaffarabad on Sunday in the afternoon.

There was no reaction from the government.

A source of the group familiar with the crackdown said that the security forces first ordered the Lashkar members to surrender but they not accept the demand, which prompted action by the forces.

“A military helicopter also shelled areas near the camp and the Lashkar men also opened fire in the air,” a Lashkar representative said.

There are unconfirmed reports of injuries on both sides.

Some activists of the Lashkar have already moved to safe place to avoid possible arrests, the Lashkar representative said, adding that the government seems to be under tremendous pressure for such action.

“If the situation turns bad, the Lashkar leadership may hand over some people to the government of Pakistan,” he said.

Eye witnesses in Muzaffarabad said that they had seen an army helicopter and also heard some explosions. Around a dozen army vehicles were seen returning from the Lashkar camp, they said.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani chaired a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet on Monday to discuss the current situation in the country, an official statement said.

Pakistan had been under pressure to take action against the group suspected of being behind the attacks and the U.S presidential candidate John McCain said in his visit to Pakistan that the government will take action in days.

The U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday asked Pakistan to take action against the suspects.

A Lashkar source said that police in the capital Islamabad also arrested several of its activists on Monday, who had set up camps to collect hides of sacrificial animals. There was no confirmation of the claim.