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Pakistan Court Orders Conditional Release For Suspect In Mumbai Attack

An alleged plotter of Mumbai attacks, Pakistani Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, center, prays with Syed Salahuddin, chief of Hezbul Mujahedeen at a rally on June 28, 2008, in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. A court in Pakistan ordered Lakhvi to be freed.

A court in Pakistan has ordered the conditional release of the man India says masterminded the deadly attack on Mumbai in 2008.

As we reported on Dec. 18, an antiterrorism court had granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, citing a lack of evidence to keep him in custody. But federal prosecutors said they would appeal the decision, and the federal government extended his detention.

Lakhvi challenged that move on Dec. 26 in the Islamabad High Court, with his lawyers arguing the extended detention infringed on his rights because he had been granted bail by the anti-terrorism court. The Islamabad High Court agreed, suspending the order. The court ordered him to submit a bond of about $10,000, the Dawn newspaper reported. His release is reportedly imminent.

In protest against today's decision, India summoned the Pakistani high commissioner to New Delhi. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh "conveyed strong concern at the lack of effective action by Pakistan's prosecuting authorities," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. Dawn quoted Abdul Basit, Pakistan's envoy to India, as telling the ministry Lakhvi's release was a judicial matter.

The case is particularly sensitive in India, which blames the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the 2008 attack in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people. Lakhvi was believed to be the group's operational chief at the time. Lakhvi and six other men were arrested by Pakistan after the attacks, but the case against them has come to a standstill.

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