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Police arrest 'masterminds' of deadly UN bombing


Latest update : 2010-03-22

Pakistani police say they have arrested two men accused of training suicide bombers involved in a deadly attack on the UN's headquarters in Islambad in October.

AFP - Pakistani police said Monday they had arrested two men who were masterminds behind a bomb attack on a UN office that killed five people in the capital Islamabad in October.

Acting police chief of Islamabad Bani Amin Khan said both men belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and were planning more attacks, including strikes on a western club in Islamabad and a hotel used by foreigners.

"We have arrested two master trainers from a hotel in Islamabad. They are the masterminds. They trained suicide bombers to carry out attacks in Islamabad," Khan told AFP.

"They sent two suicide bombers who hit their targets, the United Nations World Food Programme and naval headquarters," he added.

"They were behind the UN office suicide attack," a security official confirmed to AFP, on condition of anonymity. He said the arrests were made a few days ago.

In the attack on October 5, a suicide bomber dressed in military uniform struck inside the heavily fortified UN office in Islamabad, killing four Pakistanis and an Iraqi working for the food agency.

On December 2 a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a naval complex in the capital. A naval policeman was killed on the spot and a security official who was injured died the following day.

The police chief did not elaborate on the details of the arrests.

"They confessed that they were trying to target a western club, Serena hotel, Rescue 15 (a rescue service), a girls college in Islamabad and telephone headquarters," Khan said.

Earlier, police presented one of masterminds, who was masked, at a press conference.

"They are deserters from a paramilitary force. We have also made several more arrests," Khan said.

The police chief said both men were from Orakzai tribal district along the Afghan border. 

Tehreek-e-Taliban, to which both men belonged, is the Pakistani Taliban's main umbrella faction.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks across the nation since July 2007 blamed on Islamist militants opposed to the government's alliance with the United States.

The first two months of this year saw a decline in violence by militants in Pakistan after a significant increase in bloodshed in late 2009.

Officials linked the reduction to the suspected death -- still not confirmed -- of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and military offensives that have disrupted militant networks.

But attacks this month included twin strikes killing 57 people in the city of Lahore.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is on the frontline of the US war on Al-Qaeda, under pressure to act against Islamist militants in the border area with Afghanistan -- which Washington calls the most dangerous place on Earth.

The military claims to have made big gains against Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds over the past year, following major offensives in the northwestern district of Swat and the tribal region of South Waziristan.

Washington says militants use Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt to plot and stage attacks in Afghanistan, where more than 120,000 NATO and US troops are helping Afghan forces battle the Taliban militia.

Date created : 2010-03-22