‘Detained Wana suspects changing statements’
* ISPR denies reports on suspects’ nationalities
ISLAMABAD: Interrogators need time to identify some of the 25 suspects apprehended in a military sweep through the tribal areas because they appear well trained and keep changing their statements, Interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said on Wednesday.
Security forces swooped on in South Waziristan Agency in a six-hour operation on Tuesday.
Authorities pressed the suspects through the night, trying to determine who they are — and whether they had any links to Osama Bin Laden. Among the 25 caught are three Arab women and other foreigners, officials said.
“It is always difficult to establish the identity of terrorists, especially if they are members of Al Qaeda, because they are well-trained and keep changing their statements,” Mr Hayat said.
“We hope that the interrogation of the people who were arrested on Tuesday will help to find clues about Bin Laden,” Hayat said.
“These investigations are being carried out to reach other terrorists - if they are hiding in Pakistan.” The interior minister denied a report that a son of Ayman al-Zawahri was among the detainees. “Neither Al-Zawhari nor his son have been arrested,” Mr Hayat said. “It is not true.”
A Pakistani intelligence source said on Wednesday all of those held were locals apart from three women who had Kazakh passports. He said five detainees had been released. Director General of Inter Services Public Relations Major General Shaukat Sultan denied reports about the nationalities of those arrested during Tuesday’s operation in South Waziristan Agency.
Talking to GEO television on Wednesday, Gen Sultan said their identities could only be determined after the completion of investigations. He called reports about the nationalities of those arrested and reports about Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan speculative.
However, he confirmed that some foreign women were arrested during the operation. He said they were arrested by female police officers and local jirga and were being treated with respect.
He reiterated that investigations were under way and no information could be disclosed at this stage.
He said the results would not be disclosed even after the investigation is complete because incidents were connected and leaks could harm the larger process.
Asked about the demolition of houses during the operation, he said all actions were taken according to the laws and customs of the tribal people and the operation was conducted with the assistance of political authorities and the local jirga. —Agencies