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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Karachi police quiz bomb 'mastermind'
Man helped from Sheraton bomb attack
The Sheraton bomb attack killed 11 French engineers
Pakistani police are interrogating seven suspected Islamic extremists, one of whom is believed to have masterminded two deadly suicide bomb attacks in Karachi.

Sharib Zubair was taken captive during a raid on a house in the city's Bahadurabad district on Wednesday.

Gen Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf: "Survived" militant plot
Police say Mr Zubair is wanted in connection with a bomb attack on Karachi's Sheraton Hotel in May, which killed 11 French nationals and three Pakistanis, and a blast outside the US Consulate in June, in which 12 Pakistanis died.

The suspects also plotted to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in June, the authorities say.

Another five suspected militants were rounded up in Karachi overnight.

The arrests come only a week after about a dozen foreigners, including 11 September suspect Ramzi Binalshibh, were also detained in the city.

Sharib Zubair is believed to belong to the al-Almi offshoot of Harkat-ul Mujahideen - one of the main guerrilla groups fighting Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Three Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Almi members are already on trial for the US consulate attack, and for an apparent attempt on General Musharraf's life when he visited Karachi in April.

Weapons seized


One of the apprehended terrorists is suspected to have masterminded the attack on a bus near the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi

Government statement
The seven suspected Islamic militants were apprehended in a series of raids across the city early on Wednesday.

An interior ministry spokesman said that a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition was also recovered in the raids.

Sharib Zubair and another of the arrested men, Mufti Zubair, had secretly installed a rocket launcher on the rooftop of their apartment block, police sources said.

A reward of 1.5 million rupees ($25,000) had been offered for his capture.

Assassination plot

The government says General Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has escaped two assassination attempts this year, both of them in Karachi and both supposedly planned by Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Almi.

The arrests are the latest in a series by the authorities in Pakistan aimed at cracking down on terrorism.

Last week intelligence officials from the US and Pakistan began their interrogation of Ramzi Binalshibh, accused of being one of the planners of the 11 September attacks.

The suspected leading al-Qaeda member was caught after a shoot-out in Karachi.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

24 Jul 02 | South Asia
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14 Sep 02 | South Asia
14 Sep 02 | South Asia
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