Six suicide bombers arrested in Pakistan

IANS | Islamabad: Six suspected suicide bombers have been arrested from two places in Pakistan and a huge cache or arms, including suicide jackets, recovered from them, ahead of the Shia community’s Ashura procession, officials said.Three suspects were arrested Thursday in Quetta in Balochistan province. Two suicide jackets, 28 hand grenades, four rockets and 20 kg of explosives were recovered from them.

Karachi police also arrested three suspected militants belonging to banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Wednesday evening and recovered suicide jackets from them.

Brigadier Shahzad, deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Frontier Corps, Thursday said the suspected terrorists were arrested from near the Chaman border while trying to cross over to the Pakistani side from Afghanistan.

“Initial investigations reveal that the suspects wanted to carry out suicide bombings at Ashura processions in Quetta,” he said.

Meanwhile, the procession routes in Karachi have been sealed and the army is providing air cover with helicopters.

More than 200 suspects have been taken into custody in a major crackdown in various cities. Armed forces and paramilitary personnel have been commissioned in several sensitive areas for potential sectarian conflict during the first 10 days of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar.

A week ago, on the first and third day of Muharram, two separate suicide blasts in Kohat and Hangu in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killed over 30 people.

Suicide blasts in the country have targeted Shia processions in Karachi, Quetta and Lahore, which has resulted in intensified security this year.

Ashura processions, revered by the Shia community, would be taken out Thursday and Friday across Pakistan amidst tight security.

The month of Muharram is considered auspicious for Muslims all over the world. The month’s tenth day – called Ashura – is observed to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who died in the battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram.

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Pakistani media embarrassed by fake WikiLeaks disclosures

(IANS) The Pakistani media was in an acute embarrassing position Friday and offered apologies to the public after it published false stories about India based on fake WikiLeaks reports. The media Thursday carried reports about India’s “anti-Pakistan activities” in the country’s tribal areas and Afghanistan.

Dunya TV said Friday that “the report released by a news agency attributing some statements to the US envoy in India that it (India) was involved in anti-Pakistan activities were found untrue”.

“It only goes to show that media is now being used for propaganda activities as well,” Dunya TV added.

The dispatch of the news agency, prominently carried by most leading Pakistani newspapers Thursday, quoted the US ambassador in India as saying that “India was ready for war with Pakistan in 2004″. “India was also carrying out anti-Pakistan activities in the country’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan,” it said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in its raection, had even gone to the extent of saying that “it was already aware of Indian designs in tribal areas and Afghanistan”, after the spokesman was questioned about the latest disclosures in the weekly briefing.

However, the US State Department’s denial of the referred cables gave a new spin to the entire episode.

“We are conscious of our responsibility towards the audience, and the media should not be used like this at the behest of vested interests,” said Pervez Shaukat, president of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. “It is awful to know that the story carried malicious designs,” said Urdu daily Khabrain.

“It only goes to show how the media can get carried away in the heat of the moment without checking the facts,” said daily Jang.

The News and Express Tribune dailies carried retractions Friday, while the TV channels ran stories to offer apologies to the general public.

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Racing car rams into crowd, kills four in Pakistan

IANS | Islamabad: A racing event in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi city Sunday evening turned tragic when a car lost control and rammed into the crowd, killing at least four people, including the driver, media reports said.

The race had just started when the driver of one of the cars lost control and broke the security barrier to hit the crowd gathered to witnesses the event, Sama TV reported. The driver and three spectators died on the spot while two others were injured, it added.

“The organisers did not take the requisite permission for holding the event,” Rawalpindi District Coordination Officer Imdad Bosal said.