World

Protests planned in Pakistan after firebrand cleric detained

LAHORE: Protests were planned in Pakistan's major cities yesterday after the authorities detained one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks after years of pressure to act against his group.

Firebrand cleric Hafiz Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) group and has a US$10 million (S$14.2 million) bounty on his head, is to be placed under "preventative detention", according to an order from the Interior Ministry.

Police took Saeed away from a mosque in Lahore late on Monday and escorted him to his residence where they appeared to be holding him under house arrest.

"My detention orders are unlawful, and we will challenge them in court," Saeed said before he was led away by police. "These orders have come from Washington."

JuD, listed as a terrorist outfit by the United Nations, is considered by the US and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group blamed for the attack on India's financial capital.

Saeed is believed by the US State Department to be one of the masterminds of the attack.

There has not yet been any reaction from either India or the US to Saeed's detention.

JuD supporters told AFP yesterday that protests were planned in major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.

A spokesman for the group, Mr Nadeem Awan, confirmed the detention order would be challenged in court.

The Mumbai attacks played out on live TV around the world as commandos battled the heavily armed gunmen, who had arrived by sea. - AFP

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