The Pakistani police have arrested a German man who was wearing a burqa near a checkpost in Bannu. Local police said the man was travelling from an area known to be a stronghold of al Qaeda-linked militants.
Pakistani troops have so far refrained from launching a full-fledged offensive in North Waziristan
The unnamed German man, who is in his late 20s, was travelling from Miranshah, a key town in largely lawless North Waziristan, when he was arrested. He was with two local tribesmen and a six-year-old girl, in a bid to pretend they were a tribal family, the police said.
He is suspected to have links with militants in the restive region along the Afghan border, the local police said, without giving many further details. They did say an investigation was underway.
An official told the dpa news agency that the police had recovered some maps and a pistol from the man.
Out of bound areas
Observers believe that the German was hoping he would be able to travel more freely through the region by wearing the head-to-toe garment. The Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are inaccessible to foreigners, who have to request special permission to visit them. North Waziristan is considered a stronghold of al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
Foreigners need special permission to enter Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan
Western governments worry that extremists in their countries might be travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to join al Qaeda and get training to become terrorists. A small group of German citizens associated with al Qaeda is believed to be residing in North Waziristan, according to dpa.
The US is thought to have been pushing Pakistan to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan for quite some time now.
Last week, police in northern Pakistan’s Chitral district arrested an American armed with a pistol and sword, who had allegedly told the police that he was on a mission to hunt and kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Waziristan has come under renewed scrutiny following the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who has been charged with an attempted bombing in New York on May 1. He has allegedly told US interrogators that he went to the area for bomb training.
Editor: Anne Thomas