The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak ire over Italy arrests

Islamabad, Feb. 4 (Reuters): Pakistan issued a strong protest yesterday to Italy’s ambassador to Islamabad over the arrest of 28 Pakistanis in a major anti-terror swoop in the port city of Naples last week.

A statement from Pakistan’s foreign office said the 28 detainees “did not have any terrorist links” according to information provided by the Pakistani embassy in Rome.

“Their only motivation was to earn a livelihood in Italy,” the statement said. “Four of them had valid stay permits issued in 1998 and the rest had the required permission to stay in Italy while their applications for work permits were being processed,” it added.

But the Italian judge presiding over the preliminary inquiry in Naples said his initial findings were “alarming”.

Italian police raided lodgings in Naples on Wednesday night where they uncovered explosives, false documents and maps in one of the biggest anti-terrorism operations in Italy since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. The arrests compound the perception in Pakistan that its nationals are being treated harshly by Western countries, including the US, despite Islamabad’s decision to back the US-led war on terror.

But yesterday, judge Ettore Favara said in his initial report that he had decided the men could be held under arrest during investigations into links of “international terrorism” due to the “alarming circumstantial evidence”. He said that “access to such a high level of explosives... is a sign of an elevated degree of organisation”.

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