Mumbai terror attack 'mastermind' released

Sajjad Malik
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Mumbai terror attack 'mastermind' released

The accused mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks has been freed from a Pakistani jail.

The accused mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks has been freed from a Pakistani jail, in a move that is likely to raise tensions with neighbouring India.

Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, who remains on trial, was freed on Friday after the Lahore High Court ordered his release a day earlier.

He was granted bail in December, but the government had continued to hold him under a law that allows the detention of people considered to pose a threat to public peace. Courts have repeatedly declared his continued detention illegal.

A police official said Lakhvi was released from jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad. It was not clear where he was taken.

The Pakistani government has not officially said anything about the release, but Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India's External Affairs Ministry, tweeted, "Release of terrorist Lakhvi is not good news for the world".

Lakhvi allegedly was operational commander of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba at the time of the 2008 attacks, which killed 166 people. He was detained a week after the attacks after India blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the four days of violence in its financial hub.

Lakhvi's trial has been stalled amid conflicting pressures from inside Pakistan.

It is believed Pakistani authorities are reluctant to convict him because he is affiliated with a militant group involved in a proxy war with India in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India.

Officially, Pakistan maintains that India failed to share enough evidence to prosecute Lakhvi. India denies this and says it provided Pakistan enough documents to convict Lakhvi.

Security analyst Fida Khan said Pakistan will face domestic and international criticism because of Lakhvi's release.

"The failure to complete the trial even after six years shows the confusion of the government," he said.

Lakhvi may be rearrested if the bail granted to him is rejected by another court. The police have challenged it before the Islamabad High Court.