Pakistani authorities have busted a major communications hub for extremists in the suburbs of Lahore, arresting as many as 13 suspects and recovering hundreds of cellphones and SIM cards, according to local media reports.
The hub, situated in the basements of three adjoining houses, allowed callers to access the Pakistani telephone system in a way that disguised their location.
"No one could guess the calls were being made from Lahore," an anonymous security official told the Express Tribune newspaper Wednesday.
Unnamed security sources likewise told several Pakistani news outlets that the hub also had equipment that would allow people's location to be tracked through their mobile phones. Moreover, the suspects used the facility to track and then kidnap the sons of two prominent Pakistani politicians, former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Salmaan Taseer, the slain governor of Punjab province, the sources said.
The suspects arrested Tuesday, plus at least three that got away, belonged to the Pakistani Taliban, according to the officials.
The large numbers of cellphone SIM cards recovered will raise questions about security measures in Pakistan's telecom sector. By law, Pakistanis have to show identification to purchase SIM cards to prevent malefactors making multiple purchases.
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