Pak forces raid LeT camps, Lakhwi & 20 others arrested

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 10 2008, 05:19am hrs
The mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks, Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, is among over 20 members of the group arrested by Pakistani security forces during a crackdown in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

However, there is no word on whether the LeT chief, Hafeez Saeed had been arrested.

Pak which is under tremendous international pressure, including the US, to take action against the LeT for its involvement in the Mumbai attacks, sent its army on Sunday to crackdown on the activists of LeT and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah.

The raid came only hours after Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, who visited India and Pakistan last week, urged Islamabad to act quickly and resolutely against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

On Sunday, Rice was quoted as saying that there is evidence of involvement somehow on Pakistani soil in the Mumbai terrorist attacks but US officials did not think the Pakistani government was involved in the strikes, which claimed 172 lives and injured more than 250.

The government of Pakistan very much wants to do the right thing because they understand that even if these were non-state actors, which I believe they were, non-state actors operating on Pakistani soil, it is still Pakistans responsibility to respond, Rice added.

LeT was banned in Pakistan in 2002 after its militants attacked the Indian Parliament, prompting India and Pakistan to mass troops on their common border and almost sparking a fourth war between the nuclear-armed neighbours. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, soon formed the Jamaat, after the LeT was banned in 2001.

According to reports, helicopters were used in the operation in Muzaffarabad, the Capital of PoK. Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone terrorist captured by Indian authorities after the Mumbai attacks, had named Lakhwi as one of the LeT commanders who had planned the terrorist strike.

Lakhwi was among more than 20 members of the LeT arrested in Muzaffarabad during a major army operation on a camp used by the outlawed group. Though there is no official word on the crackdown, sources have been quoted as saying that on Sunday night that a militant named Lakhwi had been taken into custody but it could not then be independently confirmed if he was the same terrorist linked to the Mumbai attacks.

Some reports indicated that similar actions were planned in some cities and towns of Punjab, a province where the LeT and the Jamaat have a significant presence.

It is unlikely to satisfy either New Delhi or Washington unless Islamabad follows up by prosecuting those arrested and taking further action against other militant groups linked to attacks on Indian soil.