Pakistan Arrests Head of Banned Extremist Group

Posted August 30th, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistani police say they have arrested the Sunni Muslim founder of one of the country's most virulent anti-Shi'ite organizations, on charges of making a speech aimed at stirring sectarian hatred.

Police say Malik Ishaq, leader of the al-Qaida-linked Lakshar-e-Jhangvi militant group, was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore after returning from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Authorities say the charges stem from an address delivered to a religious gathering in Lahore earlier this month.

The militant organization was banned more than a decade ago after being linked to the deaths of hundreds of minority Shi'ites.

Meanwhile, senior Pakistani intelligence officials, who did not give their names, confirmed to the Associated Press Thursday that a top commander of the militant Haqqani network, Badruddin Haqqani, was killed last week in a U.S. drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal agency.

The al-Qaida- and Taliban-linked group is blamed for a number of attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Also Thursday, the United States announced it has placed sanctions on eight members of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is blamed for the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

The U.S. Treasury froze any assets of the Lashkar members, including Sajjid Mir, who allegedly helped plan the assaults.

Separately, government authorities say at least eight militants have been killed in northwest Pakistan's Bajaur tribal agency, as security forces continue to target militant hideouts. Three soldiers and six militants were reported killed there on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, gunmen killed 22 Shi'ites after ordering them off buses in Baluchistan.