TEHRAN: Iranian security forces arrested five Al-Qaeda members who were trying to smuggle explosive and weapons into the Islamic republic, a provincial police commander said on Tuesday.
"Five people of the terrorist Al-Qaeda group have been arrested in (the southern) Kerman province," Brigadier General Hossein Chenarian, the provincial commander, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
"These people were attempting to smuggle large quantities of weapons, ammunition and explosives into the country and carry out sabotage acts" inside Iran, he said.
The commander said the five unidentified men, two of whom were not Iranian citizens, had been "arrested in the past two weeks," adding that their case was forwarded to the intelligence ministry, IRNA reported.
Several senior Al-Qaeda leaders reportedly fled to Iran when the US military invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
But Tehran denies harbouring Al-Qaeda members, and has announced the arrest of at least nine people linked to the terrorist group since December 2010.
Earlier a senior al Qaeda leader was arrested from Quetta along with two other high-ranking operatives in Pakistan, the army announced on Monday.
Younis al Mauritani, who was involved in planning and carrying out international operations, was picked up in the suburbs of Quetta, the military said in a statement.
The press release stated that the operation had been planned and conducted with the technical assistance of American intelligence agencies.
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