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'CIA informants' detained over bin Laden raid
Pakistan reported to have arrested five people for allegedly giving information that aided US in Abbottabad operation.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2011 16:55
Pakistan-US relations have deteriorated rapidly since the death of bin Laden on Pakistani soil [EPA]

Pakistani intelligence officials have reportedly arrested alleged informants who gave information to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the former al-Qaeda leader.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that five people had been detained, including an army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting bin Laden's compound in the city of Abbottabad, weeks before the US operation.

But Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas on Wednesday denied reports that officials had arrested the army major, saying the news was "false and totally baseless".

Neither the army nor Pakistan's intelligence agency would confirm or deny the overall report about the detentions, however.

The fate of those arrested is unclear, but US officials said that Leon Panetta, the CIA director, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officials.

US-Pakistani relations have been strained over the raid by Navy SEALs on Pakistani territory, which was seen as a blow to the prestige of the country's military.

Officials said the arrests of the alleged informants was just the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the two nations.

Strained ties

The New York Times also said that at a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael Morell, the deputy CIA director, to rate Pakistan's co-operation with the US on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of one to 10.

"Three," Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange, the newspaper said.

However, US officials speaking to the newspaper cautioned that Morell's comment was a snapshot of the current relationship and did not represent the Obama administration's overall assessment.

"We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise,'' Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, told the publication.

"Director [Leon] Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It's a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs."

Source:
Agencies
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