Pakistan: Militants behind 2009 cricket attack killed

LAHORE: Pakistani officials said Sunday that four Islamic extremists allegedly involved in a 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team were killed in a shootout with police. The attack on the cricket team killed six police and two bystanders, and wounded six cricket players. The Pakistani Taleban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an affiliated extremist group, claimed the attack, which was carried out by 10 gunmen.

The shootout erupted late Saturday on the edge of Lahore when other gunmen tried to break the militants out of police custody, a counterterrorism official said. Another senior official confirmed the account. Both spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution. Pakistan has stepped up its fight against extremist groups over the past two years, including with a military offensive in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border and longtime stronghold of al-Qaida and other militants.

Yesterday, security forces raided a religious seminary on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta, where a suicide bomber killed more than 70 people earlier this month, and sealed it when they found nearly 100 illegal Afghan immigrants residing there, provincial government spokesman Anwarul Haq said. Other such raids netted another 228 Afghans, said paramilitary spokesman Khan Wasey. It was unclear if the raids were linked to terrorism suspicions. Quetta is the capital of the southwestern Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists groups. Islamic extremist groups also operate in the region. Six alleged recruiters for al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have been arrested in the province in recent days, according to provincial home minister Sarfaz Bugti. – AP

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