Pakistani intelligence agents have begun rounding up dismissed navy personnel over suspicions that militants who carried out a daring attack on a naval base last week had inside knowledge, security officials said Monday.
One ex-commando, Kamran Malik, and his brother were detained Friday in the city of Lahore. Malik was dismissed from the force after fighting with a senior officer around 10 years ago, said the official and the man's father. It was unclear whether the men had any link to the raid in the southern port city of Karachi.
The brazen assault a week ago on the naval base was just one of a number of militant attacks in Pakistan after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2. It was especially embarrassing to the Pakistani military, already reeling under criticism surrounding the U.S. incursion to kill bin Laden.
The 17-hour invasion of the naval base in Karachi killed 10 people and destroyed two maritime surveillance aircraft worth over $70 million. The al-Qaida allied Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
The official said the arrests were aimed at finding out whether the militants had "inside help."
He did not elaborate. It appeared authorities believe that those who were fired from the force might be more willing to help terrorists, motivated by grudges. The official did not give his name because of sensitivity over disclosing details of intelligence operations.
Malik's father Saddar Din said 10 armed men took his two sons from their office on Friday. He said to his knowledge, Malik had no militant contacts. Pakistani intelligence agencies are not required by law to have firm suspicions or evidence to detain people.
The location of Bin Laden's compound, in an army town not far from the capital, Islamabad, has brought increased international pressure on Pakistan's army to launch operations against Islamic militants in the northwest as well as suspicions, denied by Pakistan, that the military knew where bin Laden was hiding.
On Monday, a bomb exploded in a hotel in North Waziristan, a militant-controlled region where the United States would like to see the army launch an offensive. The blast wounded 12 people, according to intelligence officials and a witness.