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Suspect in 2005 London Bombings Arrested in Pakistan


Pakistani authorities say they have arrested seven suspected al-Qaida militants, including a man believed to have played a role in the 2005 attacks on London's transportation system.

Officials released few details about the arrests in an area near the northwest city Peshawar. Pakistani and foreign news organizations quoted unnamed security officials saying the men were rounded up in a raid that began as a tip from U.S. intelligence sources.

The top official in Pakistan's interior ministry, Rehman Malik, told reporters in Islamabad that those detained included six Pakistanis and one foreigner.

He says there were seven people arrested and two of them are high-value targets. He says he cannot give other details.

News media organizations identified the foreigner as Saudi national Zabi-ul-Taifi. His connection to the 2005 London bombing plot, which killed 52 commuters, is unclear.

Wednesday's raid occurred in an area where there are regular attacks against trucks supplying NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The main land supply route for foreign troops in Afghanistan runs through Peshawar and Pakistan's lawless tribal areas to the Khyber Pass. In recent years the Pakistani government has struggled to maintain control in the region as Taliban factions seized power from traditional tribal authorities.

Rehman Malik said an ongoing army offensive in the region has improved the situation. Later, at Pakistan's foreign ministry, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters the Pakistani military has reassured him that protecting the supply lines remains a priority.

"I agree with you, there have been some attacks on supply lines," he said. "But I do think that Pakistan, at a cost of human life as well, is taking protection very seriously and I have confidence that this position will not change."

But the string of attacks in recent months on truck convoys and brazen militant assaults against NATO and U.S. supply depots near Peshawar has drawn concern about the viability of the Pakistani routes. At a time when the United States is preparing to nearly double the number of American troops in Afghanistan, the military is considering other options for re-supplying its forces.

This week U.S. General David Petraeus announced deals for new, safer, supply paths through countries north of Afghanistan. The NATO secretary general said that while he did not have any information about the reported deals, NATO also is interested in securing alternate supply transit routes.

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