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Pakistan Arrests Key Sunni Militant


Pakistani security forces reportedly have captured a top Sunni militant accused of organizing a string of suicide bomb attacks that killed dozens of Shi'ite Mulsims.

There has been no official confirmation, but various news reports say Asif Choto was arrested a few days ago just outside Pakistan's capital.

He is the alleged boss of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Sunni extremist group blamed for a string of deadly attacks on Pakistan's minority Shiite community.

A suicide bomb blast earlier this year at a Shi'ite Mosque in Karachi killed five people and sparked riots that left six others dead.

Asif Choto also was allegedly behind three other bombings last year that killed more than 70 people.

The group was formed in 1996 and quickly attracted many of Pakistan's most violent Sunni extremists.

Political analyst Hassan Askari says the government banned the group in 2001.

"But still they operate underground and undertake operations against those that do not share their view of Islam," he explained.

He says the group maintains links to the al-Qaida network and had received support from the ousted hard-line Taleban regime in Afghanistan. It is accused of twice trying to assassinate Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.

Militants associated with the group were also implicated in the 2002 murder of reporter Daniel Pearl.

Pakistan's local news station, GEO, is reporting claims that Asif Choto was plotting a fresh round of attacks when he was captured.

About 80 percent of Pakistan's Muslim community is Sunni, the rest members of the Shi'ite minority. Extremist groups from both sides often incite sectarian violence.

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