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6 Suspected al-Qaida Members Arrested in Pakistan - 2003-04-30

Authorities in Pakistan say they have arrested six suspected members of what they call a "high-profile" al-Qaida terrorist cell. A Yemeni national believed to be involved in the October 2000 attack on a U.S. warship in Yemen is said to be among the detainees.

Pakistani officials say the arrests took place Tuesday during a raid in the port city of Karachi.

A government statement said that authorities have also recovered 150 kilograms of explosives and a large quantity of arms and ammunition. It says the suspected militants were intending to use these weapons for terrorist activities in Pakistan.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Tasneem Noorani, said one of the suspects is believed to have played a role in the bombing of the U.S. Navy ship Cole in Yemen in October 2000.

The suspect is identified as Waleed Mohammad Bin Attash from Yemen. A suicide bomber in a small boat carried out the attack on the U.S. ship in Aden port, killing 17 American sailors.

Mr. Attash's other colleagues are Pakistani nationals. Officials said that the al-Qaida operatives are being investigated at an undisclosed location in Pakistan.

Pakistan is key ally of the United States in its war against terrorism. It has arrested more than 400 al-Qaida suspects and members of Afghanistan's former Taleban government since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The biggest catch was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the operational commander of al-Qaida terrorist network. He was arrested in a raid in the city of Rawalpindi and was quickly handed over to the U.S. custody. The Kuwaiti-born al-Qaida leader is believed to have masterminded the strikes on New York and Washington.