ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani troops seized a camp used by the extremist group blamed in the Mumbai attacks and arrested more than 12 people, militants and a security official said today.
The raid was the first known action by Islamabad in response to the attacks, which have sharply raised tensions between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India and raised concerns in Washington over its campaign against al-Qaida in the region.
India says the Mumbai siege was carried out and plotted by Pakistani militants belonging to the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba. It and the United States are demanding Pakistan crack down on the perpetrators.
Troops briefly exchanged fire with people at the camp during Sunday’s raid close to the town of Muzaffarabad in the Pakistani part of the disputed Kashmir region, the militants said.
A senior intelligence official confirmed the raid and arrests.
He said the detainees were being questioned over any possible links to the Mumbai attacks and several injured people were being treated at a military hospital.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job.
The militants say the camp was used until 2004 by Laskhar-e-Taiba to train recruits to fight Indian rule in its section of the Kashmir. More recently, it was used by Lashkar’s parent organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa for education and charity work, they say.
The militants spoke on condition of anonymity because they belong to an illegal organization.
Analysts say Lashkar-e-Taiba was created with the help of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in the 1980s to act as a proxy fighting force in Indian Kashmir.
Many suspect elements within the agencies keep some links with Lashkar and other militants in the country, either to use against India or in neighboring Afghanistan.
Islamabad’s young civilian government has denied any of its state agencies were involved in the Mumbai attacks, but said it was possible that the militants were Pakistanis. It has pledged to cooperate with India, noting it too is a victim of terrorism.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars over the last 60 years, two over Kashmir. In 2001, an attack by suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants on the parliament building in New Delhi brought the countries close to conflict.
Click here to comment on this story »