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Pakistan arrests four Islamist militants

Written by: Staff
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Apr 18 (Reuters) Police in northwestern Pakistan have arrested an Arab and three Afghans suspected of militant links, officials today said.

A senior interior ministry official said they were linked to a local militant groups rather than Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

''They are not al Qaeda men. They had connections with a local network,'' Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, head of ministry's Crisis Management Cell told Reuters without giving further details.

Intelligence officials, however, said there could be a al Qaeda connection.

The men were arrested today after the car they were travelling in ignored a police picket on the outskirts Peshawar.

''The police opened fire at the car, puncturing its tyres before overpowering the suspects,'' an intelligence official in Peshawar said.

Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led war on terrorism, has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda militants and handed many of them over to the United States.

The mainly Muslim nation is also fighting many home-grown militant groups, angered by the President Pervez Musharraf's support for the US-led war on terrorism.

REUTERS OM RAI1741

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