Pakistan arrests four Afghans

Security forces arrested four Afghans, including an intelligence official and two provincial lawmakers, and are investigating whether they were helping arm Pakistani separatist fighters, officials said Wednesday.

Pakistani troops picked up the four during a Monday raid on a countryside refugee camp housing Afghans in Loralai in southwestern Baluchistan province, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Quetta, a Pakistani official said.

The Afghans, and two Pakistani men detained with them, are suspected of supplying anti-government ethnic Baluch militants with weapons, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to deal with the news media.

In neighboring Afghanistan, officials confirmed some arrests, but denied the men were helping militants.

Gulab Shah Alikhail, spokesman for the governor of southern Zabul province, confirmed that two members of a regional assembly had been arrested in Pakistan, but said it was a misunderstanding and the Afghans were only trying to help refugees move home.

"These are very honest people, these are very good people," he said. "There's some conspiracy ... someone gave the wrong information to the Pakistan government."

The arrests come at a delicate time in Pakistan-Afghan relations, which are strained over Afghan allegations that Pakistan is harboring Taliban militants who are launching attacks in Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies, reports the AP.

I.L.