ROME: A Pakistani suspected of being involved in the Peshawar market bombing, one of the country’s bloodiest attacks, has been arrested in Rome, Italian police said on Friday.
The man, who has been living in Italy, is accused of taking part in an attack on the market in Peshawar in 2009 in which 134 died. He was held at Rome’s Fiumicino airport after stepping off a flight from Pakistan.
Anti-terrorist police believe he also hid a “suspected suicide attacker who was supposed to carry out an attack” in Italy.
Earlier in April, Italian police said they were staging a “vast anti-terrorism” operation against an armed organisation inspired by al Qaeda whose members were ready to carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A series of raids across the country was targeting 18 people, they said. Some had been arrested in Italy, including the group’s suspected spiritual leader, but others were believed to have left the country.
The group had “an abundant amount of weapons and numerous faithful willing to carry out acts of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan before returning to Italy,” police said in one of a series of statements.
All the suspects are Pakistanis or Afghans, anti-terrorism police official Mario Carta told Reuters, adding that the operation was still in progress.
Some of the men arrested or being sought are suspected of involvement in the October 2009 bombing of the Meena Bazaar in Peshawar, which left more than 100 dead and over 200 people injured.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the group was in touch with the Taliban movement and top al Qaeda figures in Pakistan.