Lahore: Seven men have been arrested over
alleged links to the militants who attacked a minority sect in
eastern Pakistan, killing 93 people, police said Sunday.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited one of the two
mosques attacked Friday in Lahore and promised to work with
local officials to tackle the growing problem of militancy in
Pakistan`s heartland of Punjab province.
"The terrorists, who have been hiding in southern Punjab,
have now surfaced," said Malik. "Our action will be stronger
now because we cannot tolerate these killings."
The government has been criticised for lacking the will
to crack down on militants in Punjab, many of whom are part of
now-banned militant groups that were started with government
support in the 1980s and 1990s to fight the Soviets in
Afghanistan and pressure archenemy India.
Many of these groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba,
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, have formed links with
the Pakistani Taliban, which has recruited militants to carry
out attacks in parts of Pakistan far from its sanctuary in the
northwest near Afghanistan.
Police said the seven men arrested over the past two days
in different parts of Punjab belonged to a variety of militant
groups but refused to specify which ones. The arrests were
fueled by information gleaned from one of the attackers who
was captured Friday.
"We have good leads," said senior Lahore police officer
Chaudhry Shafiq. "We hope to round up all the handlers and
backers of the attackers soon."
Friday`s attacks targeted the Ahmadi sect, a minority
reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims.
Seven gunmen attacked two mosques in Lahore with assault
rifles, grenades and suicide vests. At least two of the
attackers were captured, while some died in the standoff or by
detonating their explosives.