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Pakistan Arrests Militant Linked to October Attack on Bhutto Procession


A Pakistani official says an al-Qaida militant has been arrested in connection with a suicide bomb attack that targeted former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last October.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz says Qari Saifullah Akhtar was involved in the October 18 bombings at a Karachi procession led by Ms. Bhutto to mark her return from exile.

The attack killed about 140 people. Ms. Bhutto survived, but was later assassinated in a gun and bomb attack in the city of Rawalpindi in December. In a book she wrote just before her death, Ms. Bhutto says Akhtar helped plan the Karachi bombings.

Pakistani authorities say Akhtar attended al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan before the fall of the Taliban in 2001. He was arrested in Dubai in 2004 and extradited to Pakistan.

Akhtar was detained after his extradition, but later released for unspecified reasons.

In another development, Pakistani police say they arrested four militants Monday suspected of planning suicide bombings in the eastern city of Lahore.

Officials say the militants belong to the al-Qaida-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, which is blamed for several attacks in Pakistan. They say police recovered explosives and other bomb-making material from the four men.

The interior ministry also says that security forces have arrested 442 suspected terrorists in Pakistan during the past three months. It says authorities seized explosives, weapons, suicide vests and hand grenades from the suspects.

Pakistan has seen an increase in suicide attacks in recent months, most of them blamed on Islamic militants.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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