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Pakistan Intercepts Foreign Nationals Entering from Afghanistan

Pakistan has detained a number of foreign nationals, including two Americans, for trying to illegally enter Pakistan from Afghanistan.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan, says that Pakistani security forces have detained an unspecified number of foreign nationals after they crossed over into Pakistan's northern tribal region, which borders Afghanistan. Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad, Mr. Khan promised the government will release more details about the arrests after the matter is fully investigated.

"All I can tell you," he said, "is that some people have been detained by our agencies when they were trying to cross over from Afghanistan into our tribal areas. Two of them are American passport holders. But I don't have any more details beyond that."

With regard to those detainees, Mr. Khan remarked, "They may be Afghan [-American], they may be, as I said there are no details available, so I would really be indulging in guess work, and I would rather not do that."

Reports say that agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are also questioning the detainees.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are guarding the country's western border to intercept Taleban and al-Qaida fighters. Some are believed to have entered Pakistan's remote tribal areas near the Afghan border and have melted into the local population.

The search for al-Qaida members with U.S. ties has been intensified since the recent arrest of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who is also known as Abdullah al-Muhajir. U.S. officials say he was trained in Afghanistan and planned to explode a radioactive dirty bomb within the United States. They have reportedly expressed concerns that al-Qaida operatives with American passports could enter the United States freely and with minimal controls.