Officials said on Thursday that the men, believed to be Afghans and Central Asians, were seized on Wednesday in the northwestern frontier town of Peshawar, following a tip-off by intelligence sources.

The authorities seized two hand grenades, a pistol, computer disks and militant literature.

"The kind of material seized from them suggests links with Al-Qaida," an Interior Ministry official said.

Police sources said the latest raid was conducted by an elite Pakistani intelligence group which works in coordination with the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Bin Ladin hideout

It is the latest round-up in Pakistan's crackdown on suspects linked to the network of Osama bin Laden, who has eluded a major manhunt since the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in late 2001.

US officials believe bin Laden and other key fighters have been sheltering somewhere along the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
 
However, most of the key figures caught in Pakistan to date have been apprehended in major cities.

Pakistan has captured more than 100 suspects so far.