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Militant sentenced for attacks on Shias

Karachi, June 4 (Reuters): A Pakistani court sentenced an Islamic militant to death today for masterminding two suicide attacks on minority Shias that killed at least 45 people, lawyers said.

The convict, Gul Hasan, belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an underground banned militant group that has ties with the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and al Qaida-linked militants.

Judge Haq Nawaz of an anti-terrorism court said Hasan was found guilty of masterminding attacks on two Shia mosques in Karachi in May last year, in which around 127 people were also injured.

“We are satisfied with the verdict and the conviction was based on the confession made by the convict,” Mazhar Qayyum, a public prosecutor, said after the judgment. Defence lawyer Mushtaq Ahmad said his client was innocent.

“We are going to appeal against the verdict in high court within a week,” he said.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is one of Pakistan’s most feared militant groups and police have blamed it for much of the sectarian bloodletting in the country. It has also been implicated in attacks on western targets in Karachi, including the murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, and in two attempts to kill President Pervez Musharraf.

Investigators also suspect that the group was behind suicide attacks in Islamabad and Karachi last month.

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