Pakistan arrests Taliban planning attacks: police

MULTAN, Pakistan - Pakistani police said on Saturday they had arrested five Taliban militants who were planning "terror attacks" in the central city of Multan and other towns in the region.

"The terrorists belonging to Noor Gul group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were arrested on an intelligence tip off," city police chief Aamer Zulfikar told reporters.

The 'Noor Gul' group has not been heard of previously, and Zulfikar did not say where or when the arrests were made.

"They were planning to carry out terrorist activities on the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Hazarat Ali, the fourth caliph of Islam, falling next week," he said.

He added that the group was active in the southern part of the Punjab province, and had planned to target other towns and cities in the region.

The police also seized heavy weapons and ammunition including pistols and assault rifles from the militants.

Pakistan has battled homegrown insurgents including Taliban in the tribal belt for years but has resisted US pressure to do more to eliminate havens used by insurgents fighting the Americans in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, six people were killed in an explosion triggered in fireworks material stored in a house in Multan on Saturday.

Zulfikar said several nearby buildings were damaged in the blast, which also wounded at least 10 people.

"We are trying to ascertain what triggered the explosion in the factory," he said.

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