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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 13:46 GMT
Karachi police kill Pearl suspect
Sheraton hotel attack, Karachi
The attack outside the Sheraton in Karachi killed 11 Frenchmen
Police in Pakistan have shot dead a suspected Islamic militant wanted in connection with the 2002 kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

Asim Ghafoor died in a shootout with security forces in the southern city of Karachi, police said.

Officials said he was closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, on death row for masterminding Pearl's killing.

Police say Ghafoor was a member of at least one banned group, and wanted in connection with other attacks.

These include the May 2002 suicide bombing outside Karachi's Sheraton hotel in which 14 people died, 11 of them French engineers.

'Died in hospital'

Police say they were acting on a tip-off when they raided what they describe as Ghafoor's hideout in western Karachi.

He opened fire as he fled but was wounded when police returned fire, and he later died in hospital, said Javed Shah Bokhari, deputy inspector general of Karachi police.

Asim Ghafoor was second-in-command to Amjad Farooqi and had a role in... terrorist activities
Javed Shah Bokhari
Karachi police deputy inspector general

Doctors at the hospitals said he had been shot four times in the chest and near his face.

There was a reward of 500,000 rupees ($8,333) for Ghafoor's capture.

It is not clear what role he might have played in the Pearl killing.

The Wall Street Journal correspondent was researching Islamic militancy in Karachi when he was abducted in January 2002.

His execution was videotaped, and his remains were found in a shallow grave in the city in May of that year.

Three other men were convicted for their role in the kidnap and given life terms.

Mr Bokhari said Ghafoor was a close aide to Pakistan's most wanted militant, Amjad Hussain Farooqi, who security forces killed in September.

"Asim Ghafoor was second-in-command to Amjad Farooqi and had a role in all the terrorist activities orchestrated by Amjad Farooqi," he told the Associated Press.

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