Mastermind of Lahore attack on cricketers identified (Lead)

March 10th, 2009 - 1:28 am ICT by IANS  

Lahore, March 9 (IANS) Pakistani security agencies have identified a little-known militant, Muhammad Aqil, as the mastermind of the audacious attack on Sri Lankan cricketers here, but police have failed to nab him.
Security agencies conducted raids at several places after identifying Aqil, who has links to a banned militant group. However, the name of the group was not revealed, The Nation reported.

Aqil, who hails from Kahuta, managed to escape, but his accomplice Talat was captured, a private TV quoted sources as saying.

Talat and Aqil had been living a in flat near the Liberty traffic roundabout, where the Sri Lankan team was attacked on March 3 by a dozen gunmen who ambushed its luxury bus, leaving seven players and an assistant coach injured and eight people dead.

Talat purchased a mobile phone SIM that was used by the terrorists involved in the attack. Aqil masterminded the attack and was also in-charge of its execution, it added.

Police have detained nearly 100 people for questioning. None of the 12 terrorists responsible for the attack have been arrested so far. Police have also described at least five of the people detained by them as “facilitators” of the terrorists who carried out the attack, The Nation reported.

Mobile phones discarded by the terrorists have been crucial in tracing suspects, officials have said. Preliminary investigations have also suggested that the attack could have been carried out by a group of operatives of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba to avenge the arrest of their operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

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