Pakistan Arrests 3 Militants Suspected of Al Qaeda Links

Pakistani intelligence agents raided a militant hideout in a remote tribal region and arrested a Tunisian and two other Islamic militants for suspected links with Al Qaeda, officials said Wednesday.

The Tunisian, who identified himself as Abdul Rahman, and his associates were arrested Tuesday in North Waziristan, a deeply conservative tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the record.

"We were looking for this Tunisian for the past several days. At this stage, I can only say that he is an important Al Qaeda operative," said the official, who gave no further details. He said one of the other suspects was an Afghan and the third their Pakistani facilitator.

"These Al Qaeda people are in our custody. Right now, a joint team of investigators is questioning them," said official said, who gave no precise information about the area where the arrests were made.

In the capital, Islamabad, a second security official, who also refused to be named because of the sensitive nature of his job, confirmed the arrests but said he wasn't in a position to share any more details.

No government spokesman was immediately available for comments.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror. It has arrested more than 750 Al Qaeda suspects since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are suspected of hiding in the rugged border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.