Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Pakistan holding two foreigners on suspicion of al-Qaida links, officials say

Pakistani authorities were questioning two foreigners on suspicion of links with al-Qaida, two security officials said Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspects were captured after a shootout Monday in Mardon town, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Peshawar, capital of the deeply conservative North West Frontier Province.

"They are in the custody of a Pakistani intelligence agency," one official said. He declined to give more details, including the suspects' nationalities.

Pakistan - a key ally of the United States in the war against terrorism - has deployed about 70,000 soldiers in the country's tribal regions, which border Afghanistan, to fight Islamic militants and track down al-Qaida fugitives.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Pakistani security forces have arrested more than 700 terror suspects, including several senior al-Qaida figures. Many have been handed over to U.S. authorities.

RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer