ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani security forces have arrested at least 11 suspected Islamic militants in raids across the country since the killing of a key al-Qaida operative over the weekend, an intelligence official said Tuesday.
Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said security forces were seeking to “break (the) network” connected to the slain militant, Amjad Hussain Farooqi, who he said had close contacts with al-Qaida leaders and was involved in “almost all major terrorist attacks in the recent years” in Pakistan.
Sherpao said those arrested so far linked to Farooqi. He would not say how many suspects had been rounded up or whether they included any major figures. And there was no indication any of those arrested were part of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.
An intelligence official in Karachi, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 11 suspected Pakistani militants have been captured based on information yielded from interrogations of three suspects arrested during the shootout in which Farooqi was killed on Sunday.
Officials said at least one of the arrests was in Karachi — a hotbed of militancy in southern Pakistan. The man arrested was said to be a close associate of Farooqi’s but was not identified. Two others were arrested in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital, Islamabad.
Sherpai said Farooqi was involved in two assassination attempts on Pakistan’s president and the 2002 beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Bin Laden and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, are both believed hiding somewhere along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Officials have also confirmed four arrests in towns in southern Sindh province on Monday, near the town of Nawabshah where Farooqi was killed.
A senior security official in Islamabad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said raids were being conducted across the country to capture more terrorists, including in Punjab, Sindh and North West Frontier Province and more arrests are expected.
In new violence Tuesday, a land mine planted by militants exploded in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region, killing two soldiers and wounding four others, the military said. Pakistani forces have carried out a series of military operations in the area, near the border with Afghanistan, against al-Qaida-linked militants and their local supporters.
Also, a homemade bomb exploded in a street in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing one man and injuring seven other people, police said. The bomb was planted on a bicycle and went off by the side of a road in a neighborhood where government offices and schools are located, said Rehmatullah Niazi, a senior Quetta police official. A passer-by was killed.
Quetta, also near the Afghan border, has seen a string of bombings in recent years, most unsolved. Islamic militants and ethnic-based nationalist groups, who demand greater profits on earnings from resources extracted in the province, are suspected in some of the violence.
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