Militant tied to attacks is freed

McClatchy NewspapersJune 3, 2009 

— A Pakistani court on Tuesday freed the leader of an Islamic militant group that has been blamed for the devastating terrorist assault last year on Mumbai, India.

The release of Hafiz Saeed is likely to damage the prospects of peace between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

The court released Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, from the house arrest that he had been under since the attack in November 2008. Tensions between India and Pakistan have hampered the fight against Taliban extremists in western Pakistan and Afghanistan while Islamabad focused instead on its eastern border with India.

The United Nations banned Saeed's group in the wake of the terrorist strike, in which 166 people died. Jamaat-ud-Dawa, regarded as a cover for the previously outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba extremist outfit, is thought to be linked to al-Qaida.

The court ruled that there weren't sufficient grounds for keeping Saeed in detention. The basis of his confinement, under a law allowing preventative detention, was always murky, and part of the hearing was behind closed doors.

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