Pakistani police have arrested seven members of a feared Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group accused of plotting suicide attacks in the nation's economic hub Karachi, a police official said on Monday.
"We have arrested seven men and recovered three explosive-filled jackets and detonators," senior Karachi police official Saud Mirza told AFP, adding that a large quantity of explosives had also been seized in the Sunday raid.
"They were planning to hit some major targets including police establishments and Shiite mosques in the city," he added. "The material we have recovered from them was enough to start a small war in a part of the city."
Acting on a tip-off, police raided a house in a southern suburb and arrested the men, who belonged to banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, he said.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as the fiercest of Pakistan's Sunni Islam extremist outfits and is known to have mounted numerous attacks on the minority Shiite Muslim community and other targets since it was formed in 1996.
Pakistani authorities blame the group for the devastating attack last September on Islamabad's five-star Marriott hotel which left 60 people dead, and say the group has strong links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
One of the seven detainees, Shehzad Munna, was an expert in manufacturing suicide jackets and traversed Pakistan recruiting for terrorist organisations and training young men for suicide attacks, Mirza said.
"He is also wanted in cases pertaining to attacks on former president Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Shaukat Aziz," he added.
Police also recovered about two kilograms of heroin from the suspects.
"This is first time that terrorists have been nabbed with drugs in their possession. We are investigating further into this aspect," Mirza said.
The Taliban and other militant groups in neighbouring Afghanistan are frequently accused of bankrolling their insurgency with profits from opium and heroin derived from the country's vast poppy crop.
Pakistan has been hit by a wave of attacks killing more than 2,000 people across the country in the last two years, with most blamed on the Taliban umbrella organisation based in the northwest, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.