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Police avert bomb, cyanide disaster in Pak

world Updated: Jan 19, 2008 20:54 IST

Reuters
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Pakistani police said on Saturday they had averted a disaster with the arrest of five militants planning to attack Shi'ite Muslim processions with cyanide and suicide bombs.



The arrests late on Friday in the southern city of Karachi came as minority Shi'ite Muslims across Pakistan gathered for religious commemorations that have in recent years drawn attacks from Sunni Muslim militants.



"Their arrest has averted a big disaster ... but the threat of suicide attacks is still there," provincial police chief Azhar Ali Farooqi told a news conference.



The five militants, one of whom was preparing to become a suicide bomber, belonged to different Sunni Muslim militant groups and were picked up in raids in different parts of the city, Farooqi said.



"They planned to carry out suicide and grenade attacks on processions," he said. Police seized 6 kg (13.2 lb) of explosives for use in suicide jackets, 2 kg (4.4 lb) ball bearings, one kg (2.2 lb) of nails, detonators, three hand grenades and two pistols.



Police also seized 500 grams (17 oz) of cyanide that Farooqi said was going to be used to poison drinks handed out to people taking part in the Shi'ite processions.



Sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite sects flares every year during the Muslim month of Moharram, which marks a period of mourning for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.