Pakistani police said on Monday they arrested three militants from the country's most feared sectarian group on suspicion of plotting to blow up a Karachi prison to free jailed comrades.
Three members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were arrested in a raid on a house in Rerhi, in the suburbs of Karachi, senior police official Umer Shahid told AFP.
"We have also seized at least 50 kilograms (88 pounds) of explosives, detonators and other material from them, which they had gathered to make a car bomb," said Shahid, who heads Karachi's criminal investigation department.
Among those detained was the Karachi operational commander for the banned extremist Sunni Muslim organisation, he said.
"They wanted to attack Karachi's central prison with a car bomb to free a number of their dangerous comrades who are in jail," Shahid said.
The suspects were also wanted in connection with major sectarian attacks in the city and over possible involvement in kidnappings.
"We suspect them also of kidnapping a transporter who contracted his trucks to supply NATO forces in Afghanistan from Karachi," Shahid said.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as Pakistan's most extreme Sunni outfit, accused of killing hundreds of Shiite Muslims after its emergence in the early 1990s. It was banned by then president Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
The group played a key role in the 2002 kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl from Karachi and in twin failed assassination bids on key US ally Musharraf in December 2003.