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Pakistan arrests suspected militants in assassination plot

Pakistani police arrested seven men in a suspected plot to kill the prime minister and other senior officials, as Pakistan rethinks its historic policy of sheltering militants.

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Pakistani police have arrested seven men suspected of plotting to kill top government officials, highlighting the growing threat Pakistan faces from groups it has historically given a relatively free rein to operate.

Abid Qadri, chief of the Bahawalpur police, told reporters late Thursday that the men had been captured after a shootout Wednesday night. They apparently had planned to use an explosive-laden vehicle to kill Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani and other senior officials, including the foreign minister on a visit to Mr. Gillani's hometown of Multan, but were thwarted as their plot was “almost complete.”

According to police, the arrested men were members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with growing ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“These arrests show that Pakistan is very serious in confronting those terrorist groups who until some years ago weren’t seen as a threat, but are now targeting the state and its institutions,” says Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s Herald magazine and an expert on militant groups.

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