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Pakistan Says Almost All Key Domestic Terror Suspects Dead or Arrested


Pakistan says that following a new series of arrests almost all the suspects wanted for the major political terror attacks in the country over the past three years are now dead or in custody.

Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says a series of important arrests over the past three days have netted most of the remaining suspects wanted for terrorist acts inside Pakistan.

He says this week's arrests include that of Osama Nazir, the alleged mastermind of a March 2002 church bombing that killed three Pakistanis and two Americans.

Also taken into custody this week was Rana Navid al-Hasan, who allegedly helped bomb the U.S. Consulate in Karachi that same year.

On Thursday, police shot dead a man wanted in connection with the 2001 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Following this recent series of raids by police and intelligence officials, Mr. Ahmed says almost all suspects in Pakistan's major terrorist attacks since 2001 have been killed or arrested.

"Almost 98 percent [of the people in the] cases have been recovered and the people are arrested," said Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. "Maybe we need one or two people, otherwise almost all of the people are arrested."

The list of major terror incidents also includes the attempted assassinations of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and a senior general based in Karachi.

Mr. Ahmed says many of the various militant groups that carried out these actions have close connections to each other.

"These people have somewhere crossed with each other, [cooperated with each other], and they were involved in so many things," he said.

Pakistani authorities have arrested scores of suspected terrorists, including alleged members of the al-Qaida network, over the past four months. Many others, including some al-Qaida leaders, have been arrested during the past three years.

The authorities have been less successful, however, in tracking down culprits in a wave of religious sectarian violence between extremists among the country's Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.