A delegation from ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, reportedly visited the Balochistan region of Pakistan, according to a report Thursday in the Pakistani Express Tribune daily. Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti dismissed the claim, saying authorities had found no evidence of such a delegation in the region, which borders Afghanistan.
Citing the Associated Press, the newspaper said the purported visit by representatives of ISIS occurred despite denials by the Pakistani government that any Middle Eastern “ultra-extremist group” has a “footprint” in the country.
“The revelation came a day after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told journalists in Karachi that [ISIS] didn’t exist in Pakistan, though he conceded that some local groups might have been attracted towards the organization,” the report stated. The purpose of the visit was to examine the prospect of the Islamic group working to unify various militant Pakistani factions, according to a spokesman for Jundallah, a militant group based in Balochistan.
The government of the province of Balochistan had reportedly warned the Pakistani government confidentially of the increased presence of ISIS in the country. The newspaper also noted that in a sweep by German police against suspected supporters of ISIS, a 58-year-old Pakistani man was arrested on allegations that he may have smuggled two militants from Germany to Syria, where ISIS has a major presence.
Pakistani police were questioning local militants over alleged links with Islamic State, officials said Thursday.
Police arrested an unstated number of men in the eastern cities of Multan and Lahore in Punjab province, after two of them were found writing graffiti slogans supporting the Islamic State militants, two police officials told dpa on condition of anonymity.
The suspects were thought to be members of local militant group Lashkar-e-Jhanvi, which adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam, like the Islamic State group that has proclaimed a caliphate across a swathe of northern Syria and Iraq.
"They are Islamic State sympathizers, not active members," one official said. "But we believe it can be part of the group's ambition to make inroads here."
The other source, who also requested anonymity, said the suspects were being interrogated by intelligence agencies over possible links to the Middle Eastern group.
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