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Pakistan foils attempt to free Daniel Pearl murderer; 97 terrorists held

February 12, 2016 18:42 IST

Pakistan Army on Friday said it has arrested nearly 100 terrorists and foiled an imminent jailbreak attempt to free top Al Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, sentenced to death for the murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in 2002.

The terrorists, belonging to top terror networks like the Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, had set up joint task team for carrying out terror attacks in the country, Army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said.

"Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks," he said.

Bajwa said as many as 97 terrorists, who had been involved in several major terror attacks including on the Mehran airbase, Jinnah airport, PAF base in Kamra and several others, were arrested from Pakistan's biggest city Karachi.

The arrested terrorists were also planning to break Hyderabad jail to release top Al Qaeda leader Omar Sheikh, sentenced to death for the killing of 38-year-old Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, while he was in Pakistan investigating a story on the alleged links between the country's spy agency ISI and al-Qaeda.

"This plan was 90 per cent ready for execution," he said.

The perpetrators had prepared two explosive-laden vans which they were supposed to ram into the gate of the prison, Bajwa said, adding the terrorists had also prepared a list of 35 prisoners they wanted to kill, while rescuing hundreds including Omar Sheikh.

British-born Omar Sheikh was released by India in 1999 and given safe passage to Afghanistan in exchange for the nearly 150 passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814.

Bajwa said Karachi operation launched in September 2013 had achieved major success as over 12,000 suspects were arrested in over 7,000 raids, leading to dramatic decrease in crimes of killings, kidnapping and extortions.

He, however, stressed that more work needed to be done to completely rid the metropolis of violence and terrorism.

"The Karachi operation will continue till complete peace is achieved in the city," he said.

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