Pakistani Authorities Arrest Seven Men Alleged To Have Ties To Al-Qaida

According to NPR's Julie McCarthy, the men opened fire on police during a routine check. No one was injured, but two men managed to escape.

In Pakistan, police in the southern Punjab province have arrested seven suspected militants whom authorities say were plotting attacks on the country's prime  minister and foreign minister, as well as a major water canal and military installations.

Police sources in the Pakistani city of Bahawalpur say the suspects belonged to an offshoot of the virulently anti-Shiite group Lashkar-e-Jhangwi, which has ties to both the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaida.

They were arrested last night after the suspects opened fire on police who were attempting to pull them over for a routine check. No one was injured, but two men managed to escape. The seven apprehended were produced in the city's anti-terror court.

Police say they were plotting to kill Prime Minister Yusef Reza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qereshi, both of whom hail from the Punjabi city of Multan.

They say they learned of the terror plots, which also targeted senior police and military officers, during the initial interrogation of the defendants who include a university lecturer in Islamic Studies.

According to authorities, some of the accused were believed to be involved in the deadly attack on the Multan office of the Pakistani intelligence service last December. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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