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19 July 2024

Pakistan arrests militants over Indian air base attack

By Reuters

Pakistan said on Wednesday it had arrested several members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which is suspected of masterminding an attack this month on an Indian air base.

News of the arrests comes 48 hours before a rare meeting of foreign secretaries of the nuclear-armed rivals is tentatively scheduled to take place.

Pakistan has promised it would get to the bottom of who was behind the assault on the air base after India handed over evidence to Pakistan that it said implicated Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Jan. 2 attack, in which seven military personnel were killed.

India's Ministry of External Affairs was not immediately available for comment but said earlier it would decide late on Wednesday whether Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar would travel to Islamabad on Friday.

Pakistan's prime minister's office said in a statement the government had made "considerable progress" in investigating  the attack, and it wanted to send a team of special investigators to the Pathankot air base in India.

"Based on the initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been apprehended," the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.

"The offices of the organization are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway," it said.

Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Army of Mohammad, is led by Islamic hardliner Maulana Masood Azhar and has long fought against Indian forces in India's part of the disputed region of Kashmir.

The banned group is blamed for an attack in 2001 on India's parliament that brought the rivals to the brink of war.