Pakistan Police Arrest 23 Terror Suspects
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) _ Police arrested 23 Afghans in raids in the Pakistani border city of Quetta on suspicion of links with Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, officials said Friday.
The suspects, who included a former deputy governor and ex-police chief in Kabul, were captured from three neighborhoods of the city late Thursday and were being interrogated, said Chaudhry Mohammed Yaqub, the police chief in southwestern Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital.
He said the detainees had held ``important positions during Taliban’s tenure″ in Afghanistan, and ``we suspect that some of them have close links with al-Qaida.″
Yaqub said the suspects were rounded up in coordinated raids, launched after a tip that terror suspects were hiding in the neighborhoods of Kharotabad, Pashtun Abad and Nawan Kili.
``We have also heard that these people were involved in conspiracies against the Afghan government,″ he said.
Yaqub identified three of the suspects as Mullah Abdur Razzaq, Mullah Sher Dil and Mufti Rehmat Ullah.
Also among the detainees were former Kabul police chief, Mullah Ibrahim, and Mullah Khush Dil, a former deputy governor of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a security official said on condition of anonymity.
However, Mullah Hakim Latifi, who claims he speaks for the Taliban, denied that any of their former government officials or Taliban leaders had been arrested in Quetta.
``There is no truth in this claim. Our people live in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan,″ he told The Associated Press by phone from an undisclosed location.
Pakistan was a Taliban supporter but switched sides to support Washington after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. U.S.-led coalition forces ousted the hardline Islamic militia from power in late 2001.
Since then, Pakistani police and intelligence agents have arrested more than 600 terror suspects, including some al-Qaida operatives, who were later handed over to U.S. officials for further investigation.