- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

The group that killed American journalist Daniel Pearl is behind the attacks on Christian and Western targets in Pakistan, Pakistani security officials said.

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan already has convicted four members of the group for kidnapping and killing Mr. Pearl. Four others are awaiting trial.

"We have identified the attackers. They are associated with the Sheik Saeed group," said Syed Marwat Ali Shah, the police chief of the Rawalpindi region, the site of two recent attacks on Christians.

Last month, an anti-terrorism court sentenced to death Ahmed Omar Saeed for killing Mr. Pearl. His three accomplices were jailed for life.

Prosecution lawyers say that during the trial, Saeed and his accomplices threatened them and the Pakistani establishment with dire consequences if convicted. The group denied the charge and has appealed the convictions.

Pakistani police say at least four militants of the 15-member Saeed gang have been killed during recent attacks on Christian targets in northwestern Pakistan.

Three of them blew themselves up at the Pakistani hill resort of Murree on Aug. 6 when surrounded by police. Police suspect they were behind the Aug. 5 attack on a Christian missionary school in the Murree Hills.

Unidentified gunmen who attacked the Murree Christian School escaped after killing six Pakistanis, including two security guards. At least 150 students mostly children of Western missionaries working in Pakistan were in the school during the attack. No student was harmed.

Another member of the Saeed gang was killed Friday when unidentified gunmen hurled grenades at a missionary hospital in Taxila, 12 miles west of Islamabad. Four nurses were killed and 23 persons wounded in the attack. The militant's accomplices shot him to prevent his capture.

Mr. Shah, the police chief, on Monday identified the militant as Kamran Mir, who worked for a religious group. He refused to identify the group, but Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider had earlier said a sectarian militia called Lashkar-i-Jhangvi was helping Saeed and his gang. He said most members of Saeed's gang had come from the group.

Mr. Haider said the police had collected enough evidence to prove that those attacking Western and Christian targets were associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda networks.

Pakistani authorities say Muslim fundamentalists opposed to President Pervez Musharraf's pro-U.S. tilt have started a campaign against the government.

Yesterday, Gen. Musharraf warned of a long struggle to rid the nation of extremist violence.

"An insignificant minority has held the entire nation hostage," he said in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of Pakistan's independence from Britain, with sharpshooters positioned nearby and a surveillance helicopter hovering overhead.

"The recent attacks, especially directed at the worship places of our Christian brothers, are the most shameful and despicable examples of terrorism," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

On Jan. 23, Muslim militants kidnapped Mr. Pearl from Karachi and later killed him. Since then:

• A grenade attack on a church in Islamabad on March 17 killed five persons, including the wife and daughter of a U.S. diplomat.

• A car bomb in Karachi on May 8 killed 14 persons, including 11 French navy engineers.

• On June 14, a car bomb at the U.S. consulate in Karachi killed 12 Pakistanis, including one embassy guard and one policeman.

• Last month, a dozen persons, including seven Germans, were injured in an apparent grenade attack on a tour bus north of Islamabad.

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