ISLAMABAD – Pakistani security forces raided a camp of a charity run by the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group India accuses of involvement in the Mumbai attacks, and arrested 15 people, officials said Monday.
The arrests took place Sunday as international pressure mounted on Pakistan to take action against LeT, the banned Islamic group seen as the prime suspect in the devastating Mumbai siege.
"Yesterday evening security forces raided a relief camp set up by Jamaat-ud-Dawa... Fifteen people were arrested," a security official told AFP.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa is run by Hafiz Saeed, who founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989. He abandoned the group when it was banned after India alleged it was behind an attack on parliament in New Delhi in 2001.
The charity operates hospitals and relief camps in many parts of the country, and the arrests took place at their centre outside Muzaffarabad -- the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, where Lashkar-e-Taiba is active.
"The raid was carried out to get details about the activities of the group in Kashmir in the wake of allegations by India that LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) was using Pakistani territory for training," an intelligence official said.
The 15 arrested were members of the local branch of the charity, the official said.
Senior government officials refused to confirm or deny the arrests, which came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Pakistan to act quickly.
Rice said there was evidence the country's soil had been used by "non-state actors" to mount the attacks.
"I do think that Pakistan has a responsibility to act," she said in a television interview Sunday.
Pakistan daily Dawn quoted local residents as saying troops had taken control of a plot of land on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad occupied by Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
The site was used by Lashkar-e-Taiba before the Pakistan government banned the group in 2002, the paper said.
The 60-hour siege in Mumbai by Islamic militants left 172 people dead and has badly affected relations between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain.
India says all 10 gunmen involved in the assault came from Pakistan, and has handed Islamabad a list of 20 terror suspects, with demands for their arrest and extradition.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was scheduled Monday to chair a meeting of the cabinet defence committee to discuss the situation, the government said.
On Sunday, Pakistan denied a report that it had agreed to a 48-hour deadline set by the United States and India to hand over Pakistanis suspected of involvement in the attacks and form a plan of action against Lashkar-e-Taiba.