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 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 16:59 GMT
Pakistan arrests four 'suicide attackers'
Pakistani police
Police have made a series of arrests in the past week
Four Pakistani militants alleged to have been planning suicide attacks have been arrested in the city of Karachi, police say.

A senior police official said the suspects were armed with grenades and were on their way to blow up a bridge when they were detained.

We swiftly took action when we received our information and were able to arrest all four terrorists

Shafi Rind, police spokesman
Police said the suspects belonged to an outlawed militant Islamic group, Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Later on Saturday, one person was killed and at least eight injured, some of them critically, when an explosion ripped through a bus in Hyderabad about 150 kilometeres north of Karachi.

Nobody has said they carried out the attack and the police were unable to link the explosion to any other incident.

Al-Qaeda link

The announcement of the latest arrests came after a week in which Pakistani police arrested three Islamic militants suspected of planning suicide attacks, and nine members of the same family suspected of links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and the former Taleban regime in Afghnistan.

The four men were ordered to be held without bail by a court in Karachi on Saturday while an investigation is carried out.

Police said they acted on a tip-off.

"We swiftly took action when we received our information and were able to arrest all four terrorists with three hand grenades," said police spokesman Shafi Rind.

Maulana Masood Azhar
Azhar has been freed from house arrest

The men - all Pakistanis - were reportedly arrested on their way to a busy street in eastern Karachi.

The suspects told interrogators they were recruited in November by two unidentified Arab men with links to al-Qaeda, police said.

"These Arabs explained to us about the suffering of Palestinians and asked us to join the mission," one of the suspects was quoted as telling police.

The suspect said two Pakistani go-betweens helped him buy 14 hand grenades, police said.

Leader freed

The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad was banned by Pakistan last January and declared a terrorist organisation by the United States.

The group is believed to have been behind an attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi last December and it has been linked to the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in January.

Two weeks ago the founder and leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Maulana Masood Azhar, was released from house arrest in Pakistan.

Dozens of members of other Islamic organisations have also been freed from detention in Pakistan in recent weeks, while Paksitani police say they have foiled a number of planned attacks.

Last week police in Karachi arrested three Islamic militants said to have been planning to carry out suicide bombings against US diplomats in the country.


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See also:

19 Dec 02 | South Asia
16 Dec 02 | South Asia
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28 Aug 02 | South Asia
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
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