Hundreds of suspected militants detained in Pakistan

2017-03-04 08:03
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard next to suspects arrested during a search operation in Shah Kass along the Afghan border. (Muhammad Sajjad, AP)

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard next to suspects arrested during a search operation in Shah Kass along the Afghan border. (Muhammad Sajjad, AP)

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Lahore - Police said on Friday that about 1 300 suspected militants were arrested in a sweep of hide-outs in Pakistan's largest province of Punjab.

The two-week operation comes despite the provincial law minister's defence of some groups designated as terrorist organisations and banned by Pakistan but resurrected under new names.

Rana Sanaullah also embraced some sectarian leaders whose groups have been accused of fomenting violence against minority Islamic sects, raising questions about his commitment to ridding Punjab of militants.

Two police officials said another 36 militants died in shootouts with police and in paramilitary operations since the sweep began last month.

Sanaullah, however, questioned the label of terrorist for anti-Indian militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has resurfaced as Jamaat ud Daawa.

Brutal attack

Pakistan last month placed Hafiz Saeed, a declared terrorist with a US-imposed $10m bounty on his head, under house arrest, yet Sanaullah questioned allegations against Saeed, who is connected mostly to militant attacks in Indian-held Kashmir, a Himalayan region whose ownership is contested by both Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.

Saeed is among India's most wanted and is accused of masterminding attacks inside India and Indian-held Kashmir.

"Why is the world not concerned about India's violence in Kashmir?" Sanaullah asked. "There is no evidence of Saeed's involved in state terrorism".

A multitude of militant groups of varying size operate in Pakistan, many with violent sectarian leanings that have allowed the Sunni Islamic State group to gain a foothold despite repeated denials by the country's politicians. ISIS took responsibility for last month's brutal attack on a Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province that killed 88 people and injured scores more.

Read more on:    isis  |  pakistan

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