16 suspected Taliban militants held in Pak
Plain-clothes officers made the arrests on Sunday at a marketplace in Pishin town in Pakistan's western province of Balochistan.india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 13:17 IST
Sixteen suspected Taliban militants have been arrested in Pakistan's western province of Balochistan, reports said on Monday.
Plain-clothes officers made the arrests on Sunday at a marketplace in Pishin town, 50 km north of the provincial capital Quetta, officials told the Dawn newspaper.
Maulana Noor Mohammad, a legislator belonging to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) religious political alliance, rejected the official version and claimed that only students of a madrassa religious school were detained in the raid.
The students and their teacher were on a preaching mission in the Pishin area and had nothing to do with the Taliban, the parliamentarian said.
Noor Mohammad described the incident as a conspiracy hatched by the US to bring religious groups into conflict with the Pakistani military.
NATO forces fighting the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan believe the insurgents are partly organised from headquarters in Quetta.
Balochistan, which directly borders Afghanistan, also suffered increasing unrest in recent months after the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a rebel leader and influential tribal chief.
A conflict continues between tribal factions and the government over autonomy and revenues from natural gas deposits, and militants frequently target infrastructure in the region.
The rail link between Quetta and the rest of Pakistan was disrupted by the detonation of a powerful bomb on the line late Sunday, reports said.
Meanwhile, government forces using helicopters attacked suspected militant camps in Balochistan, killing a number of "important commanders", security sources said.