November 22, 2002

Pakistani Police Round up More Than 1,100 Alleged Extremists

Police arrested around 200 religious extremists on Sunday night and early Monday, taking the total number of detentions to 1,141 under a crackdown against five groups banned by President Pervez Musharraf, officials said.

The arrests began even before the announcement of the crackdown by Musharraf in a landmark address to the nation Saturday with police moving against extremist groups in all four provinces of the country.

"Police have arrested 1,141 militants and sealed 390 offices of the banned parties across the country," Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani told reporters on Monday.

Noorani said the crackdown would continue.

"They have been detained on suspicion that they could indulge in activities threatening public peace and obstructing implementation of the orders," Noorani said.

Police said hundreds of religious activists were taken into custody Sunday as the sweep continued for a second day, mainly in the eastern province of Punjab bordering India.

Pakistan stands at the brink of war with nuclear neighbour India over its support for Islamic rebels in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.

Two of the banned groups -- the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad -- are among the most hardline Islamic militant groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir.

New Delhi accuses them of orchestrating a surprise attack on the Indian parliament last month which left 14 people dead and sparked a massive troop buildup on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.

The other three banned groups include two sectarian extremist organisations and a radical Islamic party opposed to Pakistan's alignment with the US-led war against Afghanistan's Taliban militia and terror suspect Osama bin Laden.

New Delhi welcomed Musharraf's speech but called for tough action to end all "cross-border terrorism" in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state which has been divided between the two countries since 1947 and remains claimed by both.

The Indian government has demanded the extradition of 20 Pakistan-based militants as well as the closure of training camps and arms supply routes.

Musharraf on Saturday vowed to root out religious extremists but said there was no way he would hand over Pakistani citizens to India.

(China Daily January 14, 2002)

In This Series
Blair Welcmes Musharraf's Condemnation of Terrorism

US and UN Welcome Musharraf Speech

India Delays Announcement of Response to Pakistan

Musharraf Addresses the Nation



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