Retired Army Officer Masterminding Suicide Attacks in Pakistan

Mastermind of Sargodha attack arrested
Pakistan Post, January 10, 2008

LAHORE: The security forces have arrested Ahsan-ul-Haq, a retired army major, suspected of being the mastermind behind a suicide attack on an air force bus in Sargodha in which eight people were killed, an intelligence official said on Wednesday.

The suspect was arrested in the outskirts of the city on December 17, the official said. "We recovered explosives and jackets used for suicide bombings at his house next to a seminary," said the intelligence official, who declined to be identified.

Authorities later arrested five of Haq's associates from Sargodha, based on information provided by the former army official, the official said. "All of them admitted they were behind the Sargodha attack and were planning to carry out similar attacks, even against politicians," he said.

A suicide attacker on a motorbike rammed bus carrying air force personnel on their way to a base in Sargodha on November 1, killing eight people. Haq, who is in his 60s, was said have been close to Afghan guerrilla commander Younis Khalis, who battled Soviet forces in the 1980s and later had links with the Taliban.

Haq ran a militant training camp in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule, the security official said. Pakistan has been hit by a wave of suicide bomb attacks in recent months which have killed about 400 people, many of them members of the security forces and security agencies. A former premier Benazir Bhutto was also assassinated in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi on December 27.

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