ISLAMABAD—Police arrested two suicide bombers in Pakistan’s capital Friday who they said were planning to attack a mosque and a government building.
Al-Qaida and Taliban militants seeking to topple the U.S.-allied government have carried out scores of attacks in recent years, killing thousands. The state has responded by launching offensives in the remote northwest where the insurgents are based.
Police officer Bin Yamin said the detained men were linked to the Pakistani Taliban in the South Waziristan region, where the Pakistani army has been fighting the militants since last year.
He said one of the arrested men was wearing an explosives vest and was on his way to attack an Islamabad mosque during Friday prayers when officers seized him. He did not say why the militants would target the mosque.
Most attacks have been on government, security or Western targets, though there have been seemingly indiscriminate blasts in public places presumably to spread terror and undermine confidence in the government.
Questioning of the suspects indicated that in addition to the mosque, they were also planning to hit government buildings in the capital, possibly even Parliament, Yamin added.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed the arrests, saying authorities learned about a possible suicide bombing at Parliament or nearby buildings Thursday night, after which they quickly increased security in the area.
“We took all the required measures without creating a panic,” Malik told the state-run Pakistan Television.
Earlier this month, a bomb killed 67 people at a mosque frequented by anti-Taliban elders in the northwest.
Militants also penetrated a high-security area of the southern city of Karachi this month, detonating a car bomb that leveled the building, killing 15.
The last terrorist attack in Pakistan’s capital was in October last year, when a suicide bomber dressed as a security guard killed five U.N. staffers at the World Food Program’s office in Islamabad.
The government has credited the lull to heightened intelligence gathering and increased police checkpoints around the city.