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Several People Arrested in Pakistan Over Aircraft Terror Plot


Pakistan has arrested several people in connection with the terror plot to blow up as many as 10 passenger planes flying to the United States from Britain. Officials say the planned attack could be linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam says a number of arrests had been made in Pakistan in the past 48 hours.

"These are the results of active cooperation over a period of time between Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States," she said.

The number of suspects arrested in Pakistan and their identifies have not been released.

Local authorities also reportedly arrested at least two British citizens of Pakistani origin around six days ago in relation to the plot.

Aslam said Friday the investigation into the terror plot continues and more arrests are possible in Pakistan.

British authorities are questioning at least 24 men in connection to the plot, but there are reports that many more people may have been involved.

The conspirators apparently planned to smuggle liquid explosives onto passenger aircraft headed to the United States and destroy the planes in mid-air.

The attempt comes almost five years after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

Pakistani and U.S. officials say the plan bears many of the hallmarks of the al-Qaida terrorist network, which carried out the 2001 attacks.

No definite link with the group has been disclosed, but Pakistan's Tasnim Aslam says some kind of connection is widely suspected.

"The way this operation was planned the view is that yes, this would be linked to al-Qaida," she said.

The plot closely resembles a 1995 plan to blow up at least 11 airplanes over the Pacific Ocean using liquid explosives.

That operation was led by Ramzi Yousef and his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who went on to mastermind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Mohammed was arrested in 2003 outside the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Al-Qaida's Saudi-born leader, Osama bin Laden, is still thought to be hiding in the remote tribal region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, but security experts say the country remains a primary source of Islamic extremism.

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