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26 Jul 2004 08:44
Three terror suspects who were captured in a raid on a suspected terrorist hide-out in eastern Pakistan were from Kenya, South Africa and Sudan, but it was not clear whether they had any links with al-Qaeda, a spokesperson said on Monday.
The suspects, along with six children and three women—all foreigners, were captured by police and intelligence agents during a raid on a house in the industrial city of Gujrat early on Sunday after a 12-hour shootout.
The authorities also recovered two AK-47 rifles, plastic chemicals, two computers, computer diskettes, and a “large amount” of foreign currency at the home, where the suspects had moved last month.
On Monday, Interior Ministry spokesperson, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, said the three men have been handed over to Pakistani intelligence officials who are questioning them to determine “why these people were staying in Pakistan.”
“So far we only know that these three men belong to Sudan, Kenya and South Africa, but we cannot say whether any among them is an important figure or they have links with al-Qaeda,” he said.
The majority of the al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Pakistan in the recent years belonged to Arab and Central Asian countries.
However, some of them were also from South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Algeria.
Chaudhry said the arrested women and children were also in government custody.
He would not say what prompted police and intelligence agents to conduct the raid on a home in the neighbourhood of Islam Nagar in Gujrat, about 170km east of the capital Islamabad.
However, an intelligence official said on the condition of anonymity that the raid was carried out on information from a suspected Pakistani militant who was arrested in a separate raid in the eastern Punjab province.
He declined to disclose any other details.
Pakistan, which became a key ally of the United States in its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, has so far arrested more than 500 al-Qaeda suspects from different parts of the country.
They included al-Qaeda number three leader, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was arrested in March 2003 during a raid in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad. Almost all the foreign suspects, including Mohammed, were later handed over to the US officials.
On Monday, Chaudhry said the “foreign suspects” captured in Gujrat were in Pakistan and were being interrogated by Pakistani intelligence officials.
He gave no other details, saying “everything will be clear in a couple of days.” - Sapa-AP
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