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Pakistan bans three Islamic militant groups

Nation's security agencies placed on alert

From Syed Moshin Naqvi

President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali preside over a meeting Saturday.
President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali preside over a meeting Saturday.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani government banned three Islamic militant groups Saturday and began sealing off more than 300 offices used by the organizations, Pakistani officials said.

Security agencies across the country were placed on high alert in wake of the ban.

The decision to ban the groups came after a high-level meeting between security officials and the country's top leaders, including President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

The banned groups are Islami Tehreek Pakistan, Milat-e-Islami Pakistan and Khudamul Islam. Another group, Jamatul Dawa, was put on a watch list under the country's antiterrorism act, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said.

An intelligence official told CNN that, immediately after the decision, security authorities began sealing off the groups' offices.

Allama Sajid Naqvi, the head of Islami Tehreek Pakistan, was arrested Sunday morning in Rawalpindi, about 15 miles from Islamabad.

Naqvi's organization is a member of Mutihida Majlis Amal, the largest religious alliance opposed to the Pakistani government.

On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Nancy Powell, had raised concerns that militant groups previously banned by the Pakistani government were re-emerging under new names.

"These groups pose a serious threat to Pakistan, to the region and to the United States," she said.

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