Authorities in Pakistan have arrested two French nationals of Pakistani origin for suspected links to al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants, said local intelligence officials.
The two men identified as Sharaf Din and Zohaib Afzal were arrested in the eastern city of Lahore about two months ago and were still in Pakistani custody, the officials said.
“They had planned to go to Waziristan for militant training and have links with the Pakistani Taliban,” one intelligence official said, referring to the lawless Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border, Reuters reports.
Another intelligence official confirmed the arrest of the Frenchmen and said they were picked up from Lahore’s international airport and during investigation revealed their plans to travel to Waziristan for training.
Reports of eight German militants killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan in October deepened concern among Western governments that extremists in their countries might be travelling to Pakistan for training and planning attacks on Europe from the remote mountains.
A large number of foreign militants allied to al Qaeda and the Taliban fled to Pakistan after U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
Pakistan has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban militants, and handed several of them to the United States.
Pakistani security forces arrested a man they believe to be Umar Patek, Indonesia’s most wanted militant, after a shootout a few weeks ago and are waiting for Indonesian officials to identify him.