UPDATE: Taleban aides of Mullah Omar arrested
[h/t Ornery Elephant] this is looking like the country-wide crackdown that I’ve been expecting for awhile. From BBC:
Several key aides to the leader of Afghanistan’s Taleban rebels, Mullah Omar, are reported to have been arrested in Pakistan.An Afghan intelligence source told the BBC four senior associates of Mullah Omar were being held after operations by Pakistani security forces.
The arrests took place in two areas of the city of Quetta in western Pakistan.
More at Frontier Post
Lal Masjid Update: From Metroblogging this is the only news, right now reporters are being kept far from the fighting so there isn’t other real news:
Severe firing continues from the direction of Lal Masjid. Earlier two tall burqa clad women were arrested from the vicinity of Lal Masjid. Government reports confirm presence of some of the leading terrorists having links to Al- Qeeda in the premises of Lal Masjid.
Lal Masjid Update: Green light for operation given Sunday evening by Musharraf.
Lal Masjid Update: Clerics try a last ditch effort to negotiate intercession through Shaukat Aziz. (Since someone who tried to assassinate him was killed at the mosque I am not sure how open he will be to this.)
UPDATE: Attempted Assassins Captured — Two have been arrested for the assassination attempt on Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharaf, Ghazi tells reporters the assassins called him in support, security forces search for mole who leaked Itinerary. From Daily Times:
Abdul Rashid Ghazi said on Saturday he had received a call from an unidentified man who said he tried to shoot down President Pervez Musharraf’s plane in revenge for the crackdown, AFP reported.
“I received a telephone call from a man I did not know,” Ghazi told AFP by telephone. “He said, ‘I fired at Musharraf’s plane just a while ago’. He said that Musharraf survived,” said Ghazi.
Ghazi said the man asked him to tell the media about the incident, and that he replied, “I am inside, it’s better if you tell them yourself.”
Azaz Syed adds: Punjab police’s Elite Force on Saturday morning picked up two persons from G-11/2 for their alleged link with unidentified militants who fired at the president’s plane in Rawalpindi on Friday.
Tribal Jirga warns of two Uzbek Suicide Bombers in NWFP.
Chinese Workers Ambushed and Killed in Peshawar
Three Chinese workers were ambushed and shot to death in Peshawar Sunday in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). A fourth escaped, and this is could be in sympathy for the Lal Masjid standoff with military forces in Islamabad. BBC story here.
The NWFP province is a hotbed of support for the radical mosque which is aligned to Al Qaida allied terrorists groups — Jaimsh-e-Mohammed (JeM, ) and “Tehreek Nafaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi” (TNSM — Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws.) Previously the red mosque “ummahzon” squads had kidnapped 9 Chinese nationals from a health-spa in Islamabad, and the military standoff with the mosque began about a week after that.
UPDATE: One of the Lal Masjid extremists killed in yesterday’s firefight at the mosque is someone wanted for the assassination attempt on Shaukat Aziz in 2004. Story at FT.
UPDATE: Tale of the Nishtar park Harkat ul Jihad al Islam (HIJ) bomber who was captured on the 4th of July here, it’s long and involved — the average reader is not going to like it, but the intel folks will enjoy the details I am certain.
UPDATE: 152 students will be released to parental custody after the Pakistan intel services finish debriefing them regarding the details of the HIJ terrorists inside Lal Masjid. The story now looks like this is completely out of Ghazi’s control, and
four eight “High Profile” terrorists are inside. (Ejaz al Haq characterized them as “more dangerous than the Taliban or Al Qaida — which is probably only true if you are in the government of Pakistan — worldwide AQ and the Taliban are more threat – local snake/mighty dragon if you’ve read your Sun Tzu.) One of the four eight has been shot, and as was pointed out earlier, was responsible for the assassination attempt on Shaukat Aziz.
Update: Comments on Metroblogging state that a “mysterious aircraft” has been sighted above the red mosque, and speculation is that it’s a predator drone. Pakistan does make a version of the drone, so it’s not a given that this is a US surveillance craft.
Update: In Bajaur a remote-controlled EFP was used to attack some tribal police, one Jawan was killed, seven wounded. Sophisticated devices like this usually originate with the Qods force factory in Iran. (Unless it was a crude, home-made device, this will need investigation.) Four others were kidnapped in a rocket attack, and this is likely in response to the arrest of pro-Taliban tribal leader, Qalam Khan.