Pakistan police arrest al-Qaida militant

Dozens of police commandos raided a home in a remote town in the eastern Punjab province and arrested an al-Qaida linked militant accused of killing minority Shiite Muslims in recent years, police and officials said Tuesday. The suspect, Qari Ahsan Shah, was nabbed from the Rahim Yar Khan, a town in the Punjab province this week, said Malik Munir, a police spokesman.

However, he would not give further details, although two other official said the man was a Pakistani and held a prominent position in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an al-Qaida linked Sunni militant group which has been blamed for killing scores of minority Shiites. The group was banned by the country's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2001 to curb militancy.

Pakistan has a history of sectarian violence, mostly blamed on rival majority Sunni and minority Shiite extremist groups. Although most of Pakistan's Sunni and Shiite Muslims live peacefully together, small radical groups on both sides often target each other's leaders and activists. About 97 percent of Pakistan's 150 million population is Muslim, and Sunnis outnumber Shiites by a ratio of about 8-to-2. The schism between Sunnis and Shiites dates back to the 7th century and involves a dispute over who was the true heir to the prophet Muhammad, reports the AP. N.U.

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