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Pakistan Arrests Senior Militant Behind Dozens of Sectarian Attacks


Pakistani officials say they arrested the alleged mastermind responsible for a series of deadly sectarian attacks that killed more than 100 people in 2003 and 2004.

Police say they captured Habib Ullah Thursday night after raiding his hideout in Quetta in southwestern Pakistan.

Provincial police chief Chaudry Mohammed Yaqub says his men cornered Ullah after local residents notified the authorities.

"It's a very major achievement," he said. "He was wanted in a number of case of sectarian killing in 2003 and 2004, killing around 110."

Ullah is a senior member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Sunni group that has carried out dozens of bloody attacks against Pakistan's Shiite Muslim minority.

Yaqub says Ullah has already confessed to at least three attacks, including a strike last March that killed more than 60 people in Quetta. Ullah has been convicted in absentia for his crimes and faces execution.

Pakistan outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 2001. The Sunni group has long targeted Pakistan's religious minorities. The group is also believed responsible for anti-government and anti-American terrorism inside Pakistan.

Officials say Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has close ties to both the al Qaida terrorist network and the hard-line Islamist Taleban group.

In 1999 members tried to assassinate then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The group helped carry out the 2002 kidnapping and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.

Police chief Yaqub says the hunt continues for Ullah's associates but Thursday's arrest has dealt a significant blow to the terrorist organization.