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Pakistan Orders Release Of Suspected Mastermind Of Deadly Mumbai Attacks


Hafiz Saeed (center), the suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, addressing the media after his release by court in Lahore, Pakistan, on November 22.

A court in Pakistan has ordered the release from house arrest of an Islamist leader accused of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, his lawyer and a prosecutor say.

Prosecutor Sattar Sahil told Reuters on November 22 that Hafiz Saeed is expected to be released on November 23 after the Lahore court rejected the provincial government's request for a 60-day extension to his detention.

"The review board of the Lahore High Court asked the Punjab government to produce evidence against Hafiz Saeed for keeping him detained, but the government failed," Saeed's lawyer, A.K. Dogar, said.

The move is likely to anger U.S. and Indian officials, who have accused Saeed of helping plan the Mumbai attacks in which 10 gunmen rampaged through India's largest city, shooting up two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, and a train station during a siege that lasted several days.

India accused Pakistan of helping organize the attacks in cooperation with Saeed, who is head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, which U.S. officials say is a front for the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

The United States had offered a $10-million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed and has accused Pakistan of offering a safe haven for insurgents operating in neighboring countries.

Pakistan and the JuD have denied involvement in the Mumbai attack.

U.S. and Indian officials did not immediately comment on the court's order.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and The Guardian
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