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Pakistan: Some Progress in Search for US Journalist - 2002-01-29

Pakistan says it has made some progress in its hunt for a missing American journalist. The journalist is believed to be held by Islamic militants linked to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Pakistani officials say they are utilizing all means available to find Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl.

Pakistan government spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi, says the investigation is continuing into the case and progress has been made. But he would not give details.

"It is not that no progress has been made, but for reasons of security and for reasons of confidentiality, it is better to wait for a while, until we have something concrete, before we comment on this," he said. "Because I think we need to solve the case before we can give out certain details, which may become advantageous to people who are involved."

The American journalist disappeared last week in the Pakistani city of Karachi while trying to contact Islamic militants linked to the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden. Some reports suggest Daniel Pearl was pursuing a story about alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid, who is charged in the United States with trying to blow up a passenger plane last month.

A previously unknown group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claims it is holding the 38-year-old American journalist.

On Sunday, the organization sent an e-mail message to The Wall Street Journal and some Pakistani media groups in which it alleges Mr. Pearl has links with Central Intelligence Agency. The message includes a picture of him with his wrists chained and a gun pointed at his head.

The Wall Street Journal and U.S. officials deny that the journalist worked for the CIA.

The militant Islamic group says Mr. Pearl is being kept in "inhumane conditions" to protest what it says is mistreatment of al-Qaida and Taleban prisoners held by the United States.