ISLAMABAD - Pakistani security forces have raided a madrassa, or Islamic seminary, in the southwestern city of Quetta and rounded up around 100 Afghan nationals for suspected links to militant groups, officials said.
Provincial government spokesman Anwar ul-Haq Kakar told VOA the detainees did not posses any identity documents. Authorities also seized "undesired literature" from the seminary, known as Madrassa Abdullah bin Zubair. The institution, he said, has been sealed after the overnight raid in the Bhoosa Mandi area and detainees are being probed for further legal action.
It is unclear what prompted Saturday’s raid but the locality is notorious for harboring extremists linked to outlawed groups, including the Afghan Taliban.
Afghan officials have long alleged the Taliban insurgency takes direction from its so-called Quetta Shura (leadership war council) based in the Pakistani city and have pressed Islamabad to evict the insurgents. Pakistani officials reject the assertions, though they admit presence of insurgent fighters among hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in the province.
A U.S. drone strike in May killed fugitive Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a remote district of Baluchistan, of which Quetta is the capital city.
Al-Qaida, IS operatives captured
On Saturday, Baluchistan Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti revealed security forces captured six operatives of al-Qaida and Islamic State (IS) in the remote district of Noshki, which is located on the way to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and Iran.
“An important Daesh commander is also among the detainees,” Bugti said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. Without sharing his identity or nationality, the minister said the detained commander was involved in “brain-washing and recruiting youth” to send to fight in Syria. He did not elaborate.
Authorities in Pakistan have also lately intensified a crackdown against Afghans living illegally in Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan, and detained and deported hundreds of them.
The police crackdown has also led to incidents of alleged harassment of registered Afghan refugees, prompting thousands of families to return to their country in recent months. The registered refugees have until December this year to stay in Pakistan legally.
Separately, a spokesman for the paramilitary force called Frontier Corps (FC) said Sunday it has arrested 328 Afghan nationals from different parts of Quetta for not possessing travel documents and working without permits. “Those arrested have been handed over to the authorities at the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) for their deportation,” a statement quoted him as saying.