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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 22:03 GMT
Pakistan 'formally' detains militant leader
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
Detention orders were served on him in a government rest house
By the BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore

The founder of Kashmiri militant group - Lashkar-e-Toiba - has been formally detained in Pakistan.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was taken into custody at the beginning of a crackdown on Islamic activists more than a week ago.

But detention orders were served on him recently at a government rest house in Sihala, close to the capital Islamabad, where he was being held, sources said.

Mr Saeed had been detained for three months under the maintenance of public order.

But it is not yet clear if he would face criminal charges.

India blames Lashkar-e-Toiba and another group, Jaish-e-Mohammad for an attack on the parliament in Delhi last month.

Criminal charges

A senior officer of the Home Office in Islamabad, Abdul Rashid, told the BBC that more than 100 Islamic activists were being held in custody and the process was likely to continue.

Masked militants brandishing weapons
Crackdown on Islamic activists is likely to continue

Mr Rashid said criminal cases against most of them had been registered.

But a spokesman for Jaish-e-Mohammad group, Hasan Burki, said of the more than 90 activists of his group taken into custody, only 16 had been told that they would face criminal charges.

He said the most of the rest were being detained without formal orders.

Pakistan had been under pressure from India to ban Lashkar-e-Toieba and Jaish-e-Mohammad since the attack on the Indian parliament.

Tactical move

Mr Saeed recently stepped down as the chief of the group.

Some analysts say the move was aimed at easing pressure on the group.

The parent Islamic institution which owns Lashkar-e-Toyeba has also adopted a new name.

The move could trigger a drift of its activists to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, analysts said.

See also:

07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair urges Kashmir dialogue
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf on a tightrope
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Powell urges Pakistan to do more
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks China's backing
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
War moves spread fear on border
08 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Blair's South Asia diplomacy
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