Islamabad, Sept. 19 (Reuters): Pakistan’s interior minister said today seven Islamic militants arrested in the port city of Karachi this week were suspects in a car bombing that killed 12 Pakistanis outside the US consulate in June.
Moinuddin Haider, speaking in the capital Islamabad, told reporters another militant arrested after a shootout in Karachi last week was a suspect in the murder of American reporter Daniel Pearl, but there was no concrete evidence.
“They are involved in the US consulate bombing for sure,” Haider told reporters, adding the seven had also been involved in a bid to murder Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in June.
Pakistan, announcing the arrests yesterday, described the seven as “most wanted terrorists” and said they also included the suspected mastermind of a suicide bombing which killed 11 French naval engineers and three Pakistanis in Karachi on May 8. Kamal Shah, police chief of southern Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital, named the suspected ringleader as Sharib alias Asadullah and said he had masterminded the US consulate bombing.
Shah told reporters the seven were members of al Almi, an offshoot of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen militant group. He said police were investigating their links to the bombing that killed the Frenchmen.
Shah said a large number of arms, including anti-tank guns, were seized during the arrests.
State-run Pakistan Television earlier identified the suspected ringleader as Shariq Zubair. It said an Islamic militant named Masood was also captured in the sweep.
Haider said agents from the FBI were helping in the hunt for members of al Almi in Karachi, the port city and commercial capital.
He said authorities estimated there were 57 al Almi members in Karachi, 19 of whom were under arrest.