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Pearl suspect slain in Pakistan

Security forces on Sunday killed a Pakistani fugitive accused of organizing the kidnapping and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and carrying out two unsuccessful attempts on the life of Pakistan's president late last year, according to senior police and military officials.

Officials said Amjad Hussain Farooqi, described as Pakistan's most wanted man and an associate of the al-Qaida network, died during a two-hour gun battle in Nawabshah, in the southern province of Sindh. Two men were arrested in the raid, which was carried out by a special military team formed in March to track down Farooqi after he was determined to be behind attempts to kill the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistani intelligence officials said Farooqi was the leader of a band of Pakistani Islamic militants who worked closely with Abu Feraj Libi, a Libyan-born al-Qaida lieutenant closely linked to Ayman Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's closest aide.

A member of Lashkar-i-Jangvi, a violent Sunni Muslim organization responsible for numerous attacks on Pakistani Shiites, Farooqi was one of the hijackers who commandeered an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999 and ordered it flown to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The hijacking ended with the plane's passengers and crew being swapped for four men held in Indian prisons _ including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was convicted and sentenced to hang for the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.