Pakistan seizes five suspected al Qaeda militants

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan has arrested five suspected al Qaeda militants planning an attack on security personnel, authorities in the eastern state of Punjab said on Friday.

The raid in Gujranwala city hit an important media cell and financing network for the jihadists, Punjab’s counter-terrorism department said. Laptops with encrypted data, cell phones, a printing press, explosives, five Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and cash were found.

For years militants have held sway in remote northwestern regions on the Afghan border but some have also established networks in Punjab, Pakistan’s richest and most populous province.

“They were planning attack on law enforcement officials in Gujranwala,” the police statement added, without giving more details on the plot.

The Gujranwala group recently relocated from Karachi and was running al Qaeda’s media operations for the Indian subcontinent and sending funds to central leadership in Afghanistan, it added.

The Pakistan government says the number of militants in the country has decreased due to an army crackdown.

Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. operation in 2011 in Pakistan.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Andrew Cawthorne

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