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Pakistan Names Suspects Held In Mumbai Probe

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is reportedly one of those arrested.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has confirmed the arrest of two members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba jihadi group named by India as suspects in the conspiracy behind the attack on Mumbai last month.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, both operations commanders with Lashkar, were being held for questioning, Gilani told journalists in the city of Multan in Punjab Province.

"They have been detained for investigation," he said. Unnamed officials had said Lakhvi was arrested in a raid on a Lashkar camp in Pakistani Kashmir on December 7, but there had been no confirmation from the government until now.

The United States has engaged in intensive diplomacy to stop tensions mounting between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan and keep Islamabad focused on fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda threat on its border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said an operation against banned militant organizations remained under way, and was being carried out in several places. He refused to say where, or how many people had been arrested.

The prime minister said he had no up-to-date information on whether Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad group, had also been detained.

Pakistan has been advised by the United States to take swift, transparent action to cooperate with India in the investigation into the slaughter in India's financial capital.

Pakistan, however, has said anyone arrested and accused of involvement in the Mumbai attack will be tried in Pakistan.

More Suicide Squads Out There?

Having interrogated one gunman caught alive, Indian police have released names and photographs of the nine shot dead in the three-day assault, and revealed where they came from in Pakistan.

They were part of a group of 30 trained for suicide missions, and the whereabouts of the other 20 were unknown, a top police officer said.

"There were 30 people in all who were trained at this particular camp, of which only 10 came to India," Deven Bharti, a deputy commissioner of police, told Reuters.

"The other 20 were trained to carry out other missions. They did not come to India, they must have gone elsewhere, we do not know where they are," he said.

Investigations into possible links with home-grown Indian Islamist militants have focused on five suspects.

Police were following up leads related to two Indian Muslims caught in northern India in February. One had maps of Mumbai that highlighted several city landmarks hit in the attack.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said there is no doubt the militants behind the attacks operated from Pakistani soil.

Neither Azhar or his group have been mentioned as suspects in the attack on Mumbai that killed 171 people.

But Azhar is one of the most-wanted men in India, and was on a list of 20 militants and criminals New Delhi asked Pakistan to hand over in the wake of the attacks to show its cooperation.

Representatives of the Azhar family and intelligence officials told Reuters on December 9 that media reports the jihadi leader was under house arrest were incorrect.


Confusion over his status was sown by Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Mukhtar Ahmed in comments to the Indian news channel CNN-IBN, and a report in the Pakistani daily, "The News."

"About Masood Azhar, I don't think we had decided yesterday to pick him up but our president is determined that we remove all irritants and as a small irritant he has been picked up," Chaudhry said.

When contacted about the remark, Chaudhry told Reuters he had not meant to give names of anyone arrested, but merely repeated names that had already appeared in the media.

Intelligence officials told Reuters that around a dozen people were arrested, mostly in the raid on a camp outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

"The News" reported on December 9 that there were also arrests made and records seized during raids on offices of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity in the Mansehra and Chakdra districts of Northwest Frontier Province.

The charity, which has thousands of followers, is widely regarded as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba.

It has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, and India has asked the UN Security Council to add JuD to a UN terrorist list.

Pakistan's UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told the Security Council it would comply with a Security Council decision.

Pakistan has kept the charity on a watch list after banning both Lashkar and Jaish in 2001.

Lashkar and Jaish were blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament that brought the two South Asian countries to the brink of a fourth war.