9 dec. 2008

Pakistan arrests suspected Mumbai attack plotter

Alleged Mumbai mastermind arrestedPlay Video
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Troops raided a militant camp and arrested a suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's first reported response to U.S. and Indian demands for action against alleged plotters on its soil, officials said Monday.
The arrest in Pakistani Kashmir of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi could signal the beginning of a wider crackdown aimed at reducing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and satisfying Washington.
Lakhvi is allegedly a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned group blamed for other attacks on its soil. Analysts say it was created in the 1980s by Pakistan's intelligence agencies to act as a proxy fighting force in Indian Kashmir.
Many analysts suspect elements within Pakistan's intelligence agencies keep some links with Lashkar and other militants, either to use against India or in neighboring Afghanistan, but U.S. counterterrorism officials say there is no evidence linking Pakistan state agencies to the Mumbai attacks.
The United States says Lashkar is linked to al-Qaida. In May, the U.S. blocked the assets of Lakhvi and three other alleged members of the group, including its leader, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.
Indian officials in New Delhi and Islamabad were not available for comment.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack did not confirm Lakhvi's arrest, but said the reported raid was a "positive step."
India says the 10 gunmen who killed 171 people in the country's financial hub on Nov. 26-29 were Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Washington said Sunday the attack was planned in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, but their ties had been improving in recent years. U.S. officials fear a serious disruption would dent its hopes for regional stability needed to better fight al-Qaida along the Afghan border.
Backed by a helicopter, the troops grabbed Lakhvi and at least 11 other suspected militants Sunday in a raid on the riverbank camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, two officials said.
Before the militants were subdued, there was a brief gunfight that wounded several extremists, said the officials from the government and the intelligence agency. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
People living near the camp heard several loud explosions, but reporters Monday were prevented from traveling to the scene close to the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Muzaffarabad.
Indian officials say the sole Mumbai attacker captured alive has told them that Lakhvi recruited him for the mission and that Lakhvi and another militant, Yusuf Muzammil, planned the operation.