Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pak anti-terror court sentences 11 to death for attack on general

And, they were ordered to pay fines! That's the way to do it.

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan today handed down death sentence to 11 members of an al-Qaeda-linked militant group for attacking a top military general in 2004 in which 11 people were killed.

The attack by "Jundullah" (Army of Allah) group was a clear bid to kill Deputy Chief of Army General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who at that time was the Karachi corps commander Lieutenant General, Court officials in Karachi said.

Hayat survived the attempt as he was being driven to work in the port city of Karachi but at least seven soldiers, three policemen and a passerby were killed in the firing in the city's posh Clifton area.

Pakistani officials say that Jundullah group is a new terror group which has links with Al Qaeda, and their members have been trained in the tribal Waziristan.

The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) judge Feroz Mehmood Bhati, announced the verdict in the presence of all the accused, who chanted slogans "Allah-o-Akbar" (Allah is great) in the court room as the verdict was announced.

The judge also ordered them to pay fines of USD 833 each and pay twice as much to the relatives of those killed. Five other accused in the case have been declared absconders in the case but were not sentenced.

Security was tight outside the court room.The convicts have the right to file an appeal in high court and their lawyers said they will challenge the punishment. Jundullah is one of the new and, perhaps, the most fierce of militant groups which was been behind continued violence in Karachi in 2004. The group hit the headlines after the daring attack on the motorcade of the Karachi's Corps Commander.

It was the most serious attack targeting the military since the two failed assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December 2003.

Jundullah has also been involved in attacks on paramilitary rangers, police stations, as well as the twin car bombings outside the Pakistan-US Cultural Center in July 2004.

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