LeT commander Lakhwi arrested, says DawnDecember 8th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Dec 8 (IANS) Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, the commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) whose extradition India has sought for his organisation’s alleged role in the Mumbai terror attacks, has been arrested by the Pakistani security forces, a media report Monday said. “Security forces have launched a ‘quiet’ crackdown on activists belonging to the banned jihadi outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba in different parts of the country and Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” Dawn said.
“In Muzaffarabad, a major army operation was under way in the city suburbs on Sunday against a site being used by the Jamaatud Dawa (as the LeT is known since it was banned), which is headed by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. Sources said that more than 20 members of the banned organisation and Lashkar-i-Taiba’s ‘commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi had been arrested,” the newspaper added.
There are reports that similar action is being planned in some cities and towns of Punjab province.
On Sunday, the Washington Post had reported that the US had given Pakistan 48 hours to arrest Lakhwi, as also former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul for the alleged complicity of the LeT and the spy agency in the Mumbai attacks that killed 172 and wounded more than 250.
“It is believed that the action taken by Pakistan against the Lashkar-e-Taiba will defuse to some extent the growing tension between the two neighbours,” Dawn said.
Reports of the crackdown could not be confirmed from the interior ministry or the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
“Police and civil administration officials in Muzaffarabad told reporters they did not know what was happening,” Dawn said.
Local residents, however, said they had seen army personnel taking control of the area along Shawai Nullah, some five kilometres northwest of Muzaffarabad, where Jamaatud Dawa possesses a large plot of land on which several buildings had been built.
“The Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) of Hafiz Saeed occupied the same place before the organisation was proscribed,” Dawn said.
“I saw an army helicopter hovering over the area and around 5 p.m. I heard two or three loud explosions,” a woman who lives in the area told the newspaper on telephone.
Another person said: “The helicopter may have airlifted people detained or injured during the operation.”
There were unconfirmed reports of an exchange of fire.
Ambulances from various city hospitals had been called to the area by troops but witnesses said they returned without any injured person.