KARACHI, Pakistan – An Islamic militant wanted in the murder of American Journalist Daniel Pearl (search) was killed Wednesday in a shootout with Pakistan police who were trying to arrest him, officials said.
Authorities also announced the arrest of a suspect in the deadly bombing near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi two years ago.
The actions mark the latest in a series of high-profile arrests and killings of militant suspects wanted for terrorist attacks in Pakistan since its military leader, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search), made the Muslim country a key ally in the U.S.-led War on Terror in late 2001.
Asim Ghafoor was fattaly wounded as gunfire erupted as police and intelligence agents moved in to arrest him at a hideout west of Karachi, said Javed Shah Bokhari, deputy inspector general of Karachi police. Ghafoor was wanted in the January 2002 kidnapping and killing of Pearl, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.
Bokhari did not say what role Ghafoor might have played in Pearl's murder. The journalist's execution was videotaped and his remains were found in May 2002 in a shallow grave on the eastern outskirts of Karachi.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (search), a British-born Islamic militant, has been sentenced to death for his role in Pearl's abduction. Three other Pakistani associates have been imprisoned for life. All four have appealed their sentences. Four suspects remained at large.
Bokhari said Ghafoor was a close aide of Amjad Hussain Farooqi, who was Pakistan's most wanted militant until he was killed Sept. 26 in a shootout with security forces.
"Asim Ghafoor was second-in-command for Amjad Farooqi and had a role in all the terrorist activities orchestrated by Amjad Farooqi," Bokhari said.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said authorities arrested Naveed-ul Hasan, an alleged member of the outlawed militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen al-Alami, near Pakistan's main border checkpoint with India at Wagah, near the eastern city of Lahore, on Wednesday.
Sherpao said that Hasan was wanted for the bombing near the U.S. Consulate in the volatile southern city of Karachi that killed 14 Pakistanis in June 2002, and another smaller blast during New Year's celebrations 2002 at a popular club in the city that wounded at least nine people.
Hasan, who had a $33,300 bounty on his head, had been running a clothes shop near Wagah for the last few months, Sherpao said. It wasn't immediately clear how authorities learned of his whereabouts.
Since July, Pakistan says it has rounded up dozens of terror suspects in towns and cities around the country, even as it wages a bloody military campaign against Al Qaeda-linked militants along its lawless border with Afghanistan.
In the past three years, Pakistan has handed over to the United States about 600 Al Qaeda suspects. The counterterrorism efforts of Musharraf have made him a key ally of the West against religious extremism, but drawn criticism at home from those uneasy at his strong ties with Washington.