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Pakistan arrests suspects in India's Pathankot airbase attack

Authorities in Pakistan have arrested suspects involved in an attack on an Indian airbase earlier this month. 11 people were killed in the strike, which threatens to derail India-Pakistan relations.

"Several individuals" from the outlawed "United Jehad Council," linked to the extremist "Jaish-e-Mohammed" group were arrested on Wednesday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in an official statement. The investigation into the

attacks at India's Pathankot airbase

had made "considerable progress," officials said.

They also discussed sending a team of experts to help investigations in India to help with local investigations.

Pakistan and Indian media reported that Islamabad had also detained "Jaish-e-Mohammed" head Maulana Masood Azhar, who reportedly orchestrated an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2011. He was arrested in 1994 in Kashmir, but was released in a swap in 1999, when terrorists hijacked an Air India flight and flew in to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Sharif announced the arrests following a meeting on security issues, which was also attended by the country's army chief Raheel Sharif and other senior security officials.

Pakistan made the arrests after intensified pressure from the United States and New Delhi, which threatened to break off the peace process if Islamabad did not take concrete action against those responsible for the strike.

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Militants of the "United Jehad Council," a splinter group of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit, claimed responsibility for an attack on an airbase in Pathankot, at the Indian border to Pakistan, on January 2. The group, which is an alliance of 13 Kashmir-based rebel groups, said its "highway squad" carried out the strikes.

The attack threatened to derail India's ties with Pakistan, which recently saw a revival after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan. Ties between the two countries have been strained after a 2008 terror attack in Mumbai - blamed on Pakistan-based militants - killed 166 people.

Meanwhile, jihadists of the "Islamic State" (IS) have claimed responsibility for a deadly gun attack on Pakistan's consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan. Three attackers and, at least, seven security personnel died in the strikes. The IS' attack comes amid efforts between the

Afghan and Pakistan government to restart peace talks

with the Taliban and Islamabad's negotiations to revive diplomatic ties with India.

mg/jil (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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