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Sri Lankan team attack suspect held
By Dawn Staff Reporter
Wednesday, 17 Jun, 2009 | 07:17 PM PST |
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Police assists a suspect of the Sri Lankan cricket team attack from an armoured vehicle in Lahore.—AFP

LAHORE: Police claimed on Wednesday to have broken the Punjabi Taliban network and arrested an alleged terrorist involved in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk in March, 2009.

The arrested person has been identified as Zubair, aka Naik Mohammad, who hails from Dera Ghazi Khan. He was detained from Madina Colony, Walton Road in Lahore.

It is believed that the original aim of the gunmen was to kidnap the Sri Lankan cricketers. Zubair was produced before newsmen with his face covered by a piece of cloth. He spoke of his involvement in the attack.

According to a police handout, Zubair was taken into custody on Wednesday, but a source informs that the man was picked up by an intelligence agency a month back and was handed over to the police after a lengthy interrogation.

Capital City Police Pervez Rathore told a news conference at Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines that Aqeel alias Dr Usman of Kahota, who allegedly masterminded the attack, was also behind the anti-aircraft gun attack on former president Pervez Musharraf’s plane in Rawalpindi.

He said a high profile police investigation team found that the planning of the attack was finalised at Tauheed Hostel on Wahdat Road and a rented house in Madina Colony near Cavalry Ground.

During an inspection of the hostel, police recovered Aqeel’s clothes, which he allegedly wore during the attack.

The culprit had allegedly asked his roommate to switch on the television when the Sri Lankan cricket team came under attack and later disappeared from the hostel after changing his clothes.

Dr Khalid, the owner of the hostel, told police that Aqeel acquired the room using the identity card of Rana Mohammad Haneef.

Zubair told police that he was working as a waiter at a hotel in Rawalpindi when a man Sifullah, who used to come to the hotel, recruited him for Jihad in the wake of the Lal Masjid attack.

He was taken to Miram Shah where he was trained by Saifullah and Badar Mansoor Ustad to use pistols, Kalashnikovs, LMGs and sniper rifles.

Zubair also met Taliban leader Qari Aslam and Punjabi Taliban Tehrik Ameer Farooq in Miram Shah in 2008, where Qari Ajmal and Farooq prepared him for a suicide attack.

The CCPO said Aqeel and the remaining accused, who were identified as Samiullah alias Ejaz of district Nankana, Adnan alias Sajjad, Ajmal alias Ahsaan, Farooq, Ameer of Punjab Taliban, and Umer alias Abdul Wahab of D.I. Khan, were still at large.

He told a questioner that police had the complete data of the absconders but they might have slipped away to Waziristan or gone underground.

Rathore went on to say that Aqeel had received training from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Chief Baitullah Mehsood, adding that Samiullah had bought the two auto rickshaws used in the Liberty attack.

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