| Asif Ramzi
Islamabad, Dec. 20 (Reuters): Pakistani authorities said today they were trying a DNA match to establish if a man suspected in the murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl killed himself while making bombs in the southern city of Karachi.
Police said they were trying to track down relatives of Asif Ramzi, a leading Islamic militant wanted in connection with the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl earlier this year and for a string of bomb attacks in Karachi.
They said they would be sending body parts found in the rubble of a three-storey building for DNA testing to learn if Ramzi was among the four victims of a powerful explosion in Karachi’s eastern Korangi district yesterday.
But they also needed to track down family members to match the DNA, deputy inspector general of police Fayyaz Leghari said.
“There are a lot of indicators to suggest that the body is of Ramzi,” he said. “But we can’t be positive until someone from his family recognises the body, or we get the results of DNA tests.”
In an unrelated development, police in the eastern city of Lahore released four of the nine members of a Pakistani family being interrogated to find out if they had links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network.
Police said those released did not include two Americans and a Canadian citizen, who were among the nine arrested yesterday.
The involvement of FBI officers in the arrests at a village near Lahore has been criticised by the religious right in Pakistan, which exploited anger over the US presence in the country to emerge as a significant political force in October elections.
The arrest of 65-year-old doctor Mohammad Javed Khawaja and eight of his family members also shocked many residents of the small village of Manawan, where he lived.
Labourer Mohammad Akram said his family had been receiving free treatment from Khawaja for 10 years. “He did not just provide free medicine, but also gave financial help to the poor,” Akram said. “We never heard that he preached Islam or motivated people for jihad (holy war).”
Government officials said the men would be placed on remand today for further investigation, but family members said they would fight for their release. A court hearing has been set for December 24.
In Karachi, police said the death of Ramzi, if confirmed, would be a blow against a terror network blamed for a series of bomb attacks against Christian and Western targets this year. “Think of any terrorist activity in Karachi and he was involved,” provincial police chief Syed Kamal Shah said. Ramzi led a faction of an outlawed Sunni Muslim extremist group that is blamed for attacks on Pakistan’s minority Shiite community.