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Pakistan Arrests More al-Qaida Suspects - 2004-08-06

Pakistan's nationwide crackdown on suspected al-Qaida operatives continues, as authorities detain 18 more people in Punjab province. The move follows the arrest of several high-profile al-Qaida members.

Pakistani intelligence officials say the 18 suspects were picked up Friday from around the provincial capital, Lahore.

They say the pre-dawn raid was based on information gleaned from two senior al-Qaida operatives, Tanzanian national Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and Naeem Noor Khan, a Pakistani described as a computer expert. Both were captured last month in the same province. There was a $5 million reward for the capture of Mr. Ghailani for allegedly playing a role in the deadly attacks on two U.S embassies in East Africa in 1998. Abdur-Rauf Chaudry is the secretary of the interior ministry.

"They are being arrested and being questioned. In the past two weeks, we have hauled up more than 200 people," said Mr. Chaudry.

Pakistan is cooperating with the United States and other Western allies to dismantle the al-Qaida presence in the country.

Mr. Chaudry confirms that there were rewards offered by the U.S. government for several of those arrested, and that some of the money has already been delivered.

"No details [are] available, but some amount has been paid [by the United States]."

Local and international news media have said some of the suspects have provided information that led to higher terror alerts in the United States and other countries recently. The Pakistan government, however, has yet to confirm these reports.