Iran arrests 150 foreigners, questions them on terrorist links

Thursday, February 14, 2002

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Authorities arrested some 150 people, including European, Arab and African nationals, who entered Iran from Pakistan and are questioning them over any links to the Taliban or al-Qaida, the state news agency said Thursday.

So far in the questioning, none of the detainees has been connected to Afghanistan's former ruling militia or Osama bin Laden's terror network, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing an unidentified source.

The report said those arrested had entered from Pakistan and had crossed southwestern Pakistan from the city of Quetta near the Afghan border. Many had entered Afghanistan at some stage before arriving in Iran, the report said.

The agency said the detainees include Arab, African and European nationals, some carrying French, British, Belgian, Spanish and Dutch passports, and several women and children were believed to be among them.

Relevant foreign embassies have been notified, the agency said. Iranian officials could not be immediately reached for comment on the report.

Initial questioning of the detainees has revealed that most of the group had entered Iran following the U.S.-led military strikes on Afghanistan that began Oct. 7, the agency quoted the source as saying. But it gave no time frame for when the detainees were arrested.

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