Police arrests Jhangvi chief in Lahore

-File photo

Police have arrested the chief of a banned militant organisation with links to al Qaeda along with four of his colleagues, officials said on Monday.
Rizwan Ahmad, the head of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was seized on Sunday in a raid on a house in the eastern city of Lahore on suspicion of preparing suicide attacks, said Omar Virk, a senior police investigator.
Police were still hunting for another suspect believed to be carrying suicide belts and other weaponry to carry out attacks on Shia community, Virk said.
Ahmad has a one million rupee (16,666 dollar) bounty on his head for his alleged role in an October 2004 attack on a mosque in Sialkot, bordering India, that killed 28 people.
“He was the mastermind of the attack,” Virk said.
Police found several pistols when they arrested Ahmad and the other four militants in Satto Katla, a suburb of Lahore, the investigator added. No one was wounded in the raid.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as fiercest extremist outfit, accused of killing hundreds of Shia after its emergence in the early 1990s. President Pervez Musharraf banned the group in 1999.
The group’s hitmen found sanctuary in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime and forged close ties with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.
Its militants played a key role in the 2002 kidnap and murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl and in twin failed assassination bids on key US ally Musharraf in December 2003, security officials say.
The 28-year-old Ahmad previously trained at militant camps in Afghanistan, officials said. He is believed to have taken command of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi after the previous chief, Akram Lahori, was arrested in 2003.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2007