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Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Pakistan thwarts embassy attack

August 22, 2004

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— Pakistani forces arrested at least five al-Qaida-linked terrorists plotting to launch suicide attacks on government leaders and the U.S. Embassy, the government said Saturday.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said security forces had captured five or six suspects -- one Egyptian, the others Pakistani -- in the past week across the country and had seized some weapons.

Authorities were hunting for at least four other suspects, he said.

However, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat told The Associated Press that about a dozen suspects had been arrested. He said they had been plotting to launch suicide attacks on "important personalities."

He said the group wanted to hit the official residence of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Parliament and the U.S. Embassy 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," he said. "Definitely they are linked to al-Qaida."

In the past five weeks, Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, says it has captured more than 60 terror suspects, including some key al-Qaida operatives.

Last weekend, authorities said they foiled a plot by terrorists to sabotage Independence Day celebrations in Islamabad and arrested at least two people.

Hayyat said some of the suspects arrested this past week had links with Abdul Rashid Ghazi, a senior cleric and head of a religious school in Islamabad.

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