PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistani police arrested a 20-year-old American man late Monday in a militant-infested area close to the Afghan border, an officer said.
Officers were investigating why the man was in the area, said officer Pir Shahab. The region has seen months of fighting between Taliban and al-Qaida extremists and is believed to be a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other foreign extremists,
He said the man — identified on his passport as Juddi Kenan — was arrested at a checkpoint while trying to enter Mohmand tribal province without the special permission to be in the region required by Pakistani law.
A U.S. embassy spokesman said he had no information on the arrest.
Asked whether he was believed to be a journalist, a tourist, a soldier or a militant, Sahab said: "These are the questions we are trying to investigate."
Another police official, Marjan Khan, said the man was wearing a traditional Pakistani dress and appeared to be a civilian.
"He has told us that he was a student at a community college in Florida and wanted to enter the tribal region to see a friend," Khan said.
He said the man was carrying a laptop computer and a travel bag, adding that he had been moved to an undisclosed location for questioning.
Militants in the tribal area are blamed for rising attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistani authorities often claim to kill or arrest foreign extremists, mostly from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Chechnya, in the border area.