Pakistan police arrest gang accused in bombings

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2009 2:24 PM

Police commandos acting on a tip killed one militant and arrested five others Sunday in a raid against a bombing cell accused in recent attacks around the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, authorities said.

Elsewhere in the volatile region, a remote-controlled roadside bomb killed two anti-Taliban tribal elders _ underscoring the difficulty Pakistan faces in cracking down on the loose and flexible network of militants threatening its stability.

Police said the commandos encountered fierce resistance when they stormed the compound in the village of Kaka Khel near Peshawar, the largest city in the area and the main gateway to the Afghan border region where many al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents are based.

Militants have carried out a wave of deadly attacks in and around Peshawar in apparent retaliation for an army offensive in the tribal area of South Waziristan.

Three suicide jackets as well as a number of bombs, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons were seized from the compound, regional police Chief Liaquat Ali Khan said.

He said one suspect was killed and five others arrested following a gunbattle that lasted more than two hours. A search operation for more militants continued in the area, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Peshawar.

The detained are suspected of involvement in recent bombings and other attacks not only in Peshawar but in Islamabad and its sister city of Rawalpindi, Khan said, declining to be more specific.

In the latest major attack, a team of gunmen and suicide bombers struck a mosque Friday in Rawalpindi, killing 37 people, including several senior army officers.

Militants also have tried to weaken the long-standing tribal leadership structure in the northwest, killing scores of elders so they could impose their own reign.

The roadside bomb that killed two elders Sunday in the Bajur tribal region also left two other tribesmen wounded, local government official Jamil Khan said. The two dead elders were on foot, leaving a mosque in the Malangi area after prayers.

Pakistani security forces also killed 13 suspected militants, including a prominent commander identified as Gul Maula, in gunbattles in two other parts of the northwest over the weekend.

Maj. Mushtaq Ahmed, a military spokesman, said Maula and four others were killed in the Dangram area of the Swat Valley, where the suspected militants were spotted trying to sneak through the mountains to the main town of Mingora. Pakistan's army has waged an offensive against the Taliban in Swat for much of this year.

In the neighboring region of Lower Dir, security forces killed eight alleged militants hiding in a house in the Maidan area, said Maj. Suleman Hanif, another army spokesman. The soldiers recovered weapons including two rocket launchers and eight assault rifles.

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Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Anwarullah Khan contributed to this report from Islamabad.