Davis performed surveillance missions for CIA: reports

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Washington/Islamabad, Feb 21 (PTI) US official RaymondDavis, arrested for gunning down two men in Lahore, was a CIAagent in Pakistan tasked with keeping a track on movements ofPakistani militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, mediareports said today.

British paper The Guardian said based on interviews inthe US and Pakistan, that it can confirm that Davis, a formerspecial forces soldier is employed by the CIA.

It quoted a senior Pakistani intelligence official assaying that "it''s beyond a shadow of doubt".

While the CIA declined to comment on the report, a NewYork Times report said quoting American officials that Daviswas part of a covert CIA-led team of operatives conductingsurveillance on militant groups deep inside Pakistan.

The Times said the CIA team in Lahore with which Daviswas associated "was tasked with tracking the movements ofvarious Pakistani militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba,a particularly violent group that Pakistan uses as a proxyforce against India but that the United States considers athreat to allied troops in Afghanistan".

Lashkar-e-Taiba has been blamed by India fororchestrating the Mumbai terror attack that claimed 166 lives.

"For the Pakistanis, such spying inside their countryis an extremely delicate issue, particularly since Lashkar haslongstanding ties to Pakistan''s intelligence service, theDirectorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI," thepaper said.

The disclosures may complicate US efforts to seek therelease of Davis, who claims to have fired in self-defencewhen the two attempted to rob him.

State Department spokesman P J Crowley refused tocomment on the issue during his press briefing in Washingtontoday.

37-year-old Davis has been charged with murder afterhe shot at the two men who had pulled up in front of his carat a traffic signal on January 25.

The Times said Davis, a retired Special Forcessoldier, carried out scouting and reconnaissance missions fora CIA task force, working from a safe house in the easterncity of Lahore.

Earlier reports in the Pakistani media had suggestedthat Davis was a CIA agent, and the two Pakistanis he gunneddown were working for the ISI, and were tasked to trail him.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf RazaGilani said his government would deal with the matter withoutcompromising national interests.

"You should not be worried. There is a responsiblegovernment and it is working in the country''s interest," hesaid, asked by reporters about Davis being a CIA operative.

Davis was engaged in espionage and surveillanceactivities and was on a mission when the incident happened,claimed Punjab''s law minister Rana Sanaullah. .

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