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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 19:36 GMT
Kashmir police 'smash al-Qaeda cell'
Funeral of Harkat al-Mujahideen commander Mohammad Farooq, killed by a US air strike in Afghanistan in October
Harkat al-Mujahideen: thought to be linked to al-Qaeda
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say they have broken up a suspected al-Qaeda cell and uncovered munitions stashed for planned attacks on US and Israeli targets in Delhi.

PL Gupta, the police chief for the Jammu area in the disputed territory, said officers had arrested five people.


Their main objective was to kill Americans and Israelis, besides hitting some more installations in the country

Jammu police chief PL Gupta
These included the Kashmir head of a Pakistani-based Kashmiri separatist group and a key politician from the Kashmiri opposition, he said.

Qamar Ayub of the Harkat al-Mujahideen group, who lives in Mirpur in Pakistan-held Kashmir, had been given the task of setting up al-Qaeda cells elsewhere in India, Mr Gupta told reporters.

Abdul Rahim Wani, a leader of the Kashmir People's Democratic Party, for whom Mr Ayub is thought to have worked a driver, was also detained.

"Their main objective was to kill Americans and Israelis, besides hitting some more installations in the country," Mr Gupta said of the suspects.

Ammunition stash

According to a report by the Agence France Presse news agency, the five suspects were seized as they held a meeting in Mr Wani's house.

Indian soldier fires at Pakistani positions near Line of Control, Kashmir
Kashmiri separatists want an end to the Indian military presence
The agency quoted police as saying information revealed during Mr Ayub's interrogation had lead them to a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives in a hideout in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

These were thought to have been collected for planned attacks on hostels used by Jammu state legislators as well as on foreign targets in New Delhi.

Two policemen attached to Mr Wani were also detained, as was a Palestinian.

Mr Gupta said a large-scale hunt for an Arab suspect was also under way. The men are alleged to have confessed to police.

Indian courts do not accept confessions to police as evidence because of the risk of forced confessions.

'Bin Laden links'

Two suspected Harkat al-Mujahideen members carrying explosives in the Indian capital were arrested two days after the 11 September attacks, according to Indian police.

The State Bank of Pakistan ordered a freeze on accounts held by the group in late September, after it was included on a list of 27 individuals and organisations identified by the United States as being linked to terrorism.

A commander for the group, Mohammad Farooq, was killed by a US air strike in Afghanistan in October.

He is thought to have been fighting alongside Taleban forces.

See also:

24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan freezes militant funds
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
India-Pakistan tensions sharpen
21 Dec 01 | Americas
More groups join US terror blacklist
15 Dec 01 | South Asia
India steps up pressure on Pakistan
15 Dec 01 | South Asia
Suspects held over parliament raid
13 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan leads world condemnation
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
India facing tough choices
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda threat lives on
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