Pak Arrests Death Squads On Ashura Eve

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LAHORE: Five men allegedly planning to target Muharram processions, government officials and important buildings have been arrested, Pakistani police said on Friday as security was placed on heightened alert ahead of annual Ashura commemoration.

Lahore police made the arrests in Dubai with the help of the International Criminal Police Organisation, commonly known as Interpol, and shifted them to Lahore on a special flight on Thursday.

SP Umar Virk said the accused were associated with the banned sectarian militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and were members of its death squad.

He said they were planning to attack high-profile government figures, as well as TV anchorpersons.

SP Virk said the accused – three of whom have been identified as Haroon (who carries a head money of Rs2.5 million), Rasheed and Ayaz – were involved in the killing of 14 people, including Allama Nasir Abbas Naqvi, Prof Dr Syed Ali Haider and Haider’s minor son.

Naqvi, a Shia cleric of Multan, was gunned down on December 17, 2013 in Lahore. He was associated with the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqh-e-Jafaria.

He was on his way home after attending a Majlis when some motorcyclists opened fire on him near the FC College Underpass.

Haider, head of ophthalmology department of the Lahore General Hospital, was taking his 12-year-old son Murtaza Ali to the Aitchison College when they were shot dead near the FC College.

Shahabuddin – the ringleader of the arrested gang and a close aide of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq, who was killed in a police encounter in Muzaffargarh on July 29 – still eluded the police.

He said Shahabuddin’s name was listed on the Anti-Terrorism Act’s fourth schedule, which meant he could not relocate from his permanent residence without seeking prior permission from the police. The ringleader was under police surveillance, but he managed to flee to Dubai, he added.

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