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Militant held in Pak Army HQ siege behind Lanka team attack

world Updated: Oct 11, 2009 20:39 IST

PTI
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The lone surviving militant of the Pakistan Army Headquarters siege was linked to the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and has close links to banned terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkut-ul-Ansar, Pakistani military officials said on Sunday.

Aqeel alias 'Dr Usman', described by military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas as the leader of the terrorists involved in the attack at the army headquaters, was captured this morning when commandos stormed the building, where the attackers were holed up with dozens of hostages.

Four of Aqeel's accomplices were gunned down by the commandos, who freed 42 hostages. Aqeel was injured when he attempted to set off a large quantity of explosives, Abbas said.

Military officials said Aqeel was linked to the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this year in which eight people and 20 others, including players, were injured.

A Pakistani police team is currently in Sri Lankan capital Colombo to investigate whether there were any local links, including the possibility of the involvement of LTTE, to the attack on cricketers.

The officials were quoted by TV news channels as saying that Aqeel, who belongs to Kahuta near Rawalpindi, had close links with outlawed militant groups like Jaish-e- Mohammed, which was responsible for the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, and the Qari Saifullah Akhtar faction of the Harkat-ul-Ansar.

Aqeel, who once served in the Army Medical Stores, also had close links with the Punjab chapter of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone attack in August.

Military officials said Aqeel is also linked to attempts on the lives of former President Pervez Musharraf and former premier Shaukat Aziz and assassination of Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig, the chief of the army's medical services, in February last year.

Aqeel had also been linked to several attacks on Shia prayer halls in Punjab.

The military officials said the five terrorists, who were holed up in an office of the Military Intelligence agency, appeared to have been prepared for holding out for up to five days as they were carrying a large amount of food and supplies.

They also had a cache of suicide jackets, grenades, explosives and improvised explosive devices.

Four of the terrorists led by Aqeel died in a gun battle with soldiers manning check posts on the road to the General Headquarters yesterday.

Another four were killed by commandos of the elite Special Service Group this morning during the operation to rescue hostages.