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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 14:28 GMT
Three charged in Pearl kidnap case
Karachi policemen at night
Police carried out night raids in Karachi and Lahore
Pakistani police have formally charged three men with aiding and abetting the kidnap of US journalist Daniel Pearl who went missing a fortnight ago.

Identified only as Adeel, Fawad and Salman, they are the first suspects to have been charged in the case.


We have arrested them formally in connection with the kidnapping case

Sindh police chief MA Sheikh

They are expected to be presented before a magistrate on Saturday when the police will ask for them to be remanded in custody for further questioning.

The three were arrested in Karachi, the capital of Pakistan's southern Sindh province, on Tuesday.

One of them is a former police intelligence officer while the other two are cousins, and all three are said to be members of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group.

E-mails

Police say they found the computer from which the three men have admitted sending out the e-mails carrying pictures of Mr Pearl in chains and one with a gun held to his head.

ISP
The internet is providing new clues

According to the police, the men say they sent out the e-mails on orders of the British-born Sheikh Omar Saeed, said to be a leader of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group.

Farooq Awan, a Karachi police officer, told the Associated Press news agency that the police were now looking for Mr Saeed's relatives and friends.

He said that most raids were being carried out in Karachi and Lahore.

Police have so far arrested around 70 people in connection with the case but only 14 are still being held.

The others were released after questioning.

Cautious optimism

Earlier, e-mails claiming Mr Pearl had been killed led to searches of Karachi cemeteries but produced no evidence of his death.

The Home Secretary of Sindh province, Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh, says he believes Mr Pearl is still alive.

He is also optimistic that the kidnapped journalist will soon be found.

Mariane Pearl
Mariane Pearl is still waiting

Mr Sheikh told Associated Press, "We are working on a variety of clues. We are hopeful that the case will be solved very soon."

However, other Pakistani officials have been more cautious and have refused to provide details of the investigations.

With President Pervez Musharraf due to visit the US next week, Pakistan is under mounting pressure to find Mr Pearl.

Sindh's Provincial Governor MM Soomro was quoted as saying: "Progress is there, but we are going cautiously so as not to jeopardise the safety and security of the journalist."

Mr Pearl went missing in Karachi after saying he was going to interview some radical Islamic leaders for a story he was working on.

Appeals for his release have come from his wife, Mariane, as well as his employers on the Wall Street Journal, the EU, the US and the Pakistani authorities.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | South Asia
EU appeals for US journalist's release
07 Feb 02 | South Asia
Face to face with Sheikh Omar
06 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Tracing the kidnappers' e-mails
06 Feb 02 | South Asia
Suspect named in reporter's kidnap
06 Feb 02 | South Asia
In pictures: Daniel Pearl kidnapping
06 Feb 02 | UK
Profile: Sheikh Omar Saeed
06 Feb 02 | South Asia
Militants linked to reporter's kidnap
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