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5 Suspected of Plotting Attacks Held in Pakistan

August 22, 2004|From Times Wire Services

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan has arrested at least five suspected terrorists with links to Al Qaeda who were plotting suicide attacks on government leaders and the U.S. Embassy, officials said Saturday.

Security forces captured five or six suspects -- one Egyptian, the others Pakistani -- in the last week across the country and seized rockets, grenades, rifles and explosives, Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said.

He said that authorities were hunting for four to five other suspects and that those detained had planned to "kill hundreds of innocent people" and cause unrest in Pakistan.

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat, however, said that a "gang" of a dozen suspects was captured and that two Egyptians, Qari Ismail and Sheik Essa, were suspected of being "key elements" of the group.

He said the group had been planning suicide attacks against "important personalities" and sites such as the official residence of President Pervez Musharraf, the parliament building and the U.S. Embassy, all in the capital, Islamabad, as well as Army House in the neighboring city of Rawalpindi.

They also wanted to target some government ministers, he said.

"This is a gang of suicide bombers, and our security agencies have done a remarkable job by foiling this plot," Hayat said. "Definitely, they are linked to Al Qaeda."

Ahmed named one of the detained Pakistanis as Farooq Usman, who was arrested at a religious school in the capital.

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