Pakistani forces arrested 29 suspected Taliban militants Tuesday in a raid on a private hospital after they came from neighboring Afghanistan, officials said.
The raid took place at Al-Khair Hospital in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province in southwestern Pakistan, where 10 men were being treated for wounds suffered in fighting in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, hospital official Mohammed Amir said.
Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said security agents arrested 29 suspected Taliban insurgents in all, including two local commanders. He said the men had come to the hospital “in recent days,” but did not specify when. He provided no further details.
Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Taliban militants and other extremists from using Pakistani soil to launch attacks on Afghan and U.S.-led forces. Pakistan says it is doing all it can to stop militant activity.
‘They were patients’
On July 17, police raided a home in Quetta and arrested five Afghans suspected of belonging to the hard-line Taliban militia, which has been fighting Afghan and foreign troops since being ousted by a U.S.-led military offensive in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden.
Amir, the hospital official, said the International Committee of the Red Crescent had referred the wounded men to the Quetta facility for treatment. ICRC officials had no immediate comment.
“We don’t know why Pakistani security officials arrested them,” Amir told The Associated Press. “For us, they were patients.”
Chaudhry Mohammed Yaqoob, the Baluchistan police chief, said the suspected Taliban fighters started arriving at the hospital 12 days ago. The last one was brought early Tuesday for treatment, he said.
“All I know is that they are now in the custody of our security agencies, who are questioning them,” Yaqoob said, adding that 10 of the 29 detainees were suffering from various wounds.