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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
New Pakistan anti-terror force
A new anti-terrorism force in Pakistan will be ready to begin operations next month, the government says.

The unit is being set up with US help to track terror suspects seeking refuge in Pakistan, Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmed told the Associated Press.

This is going to be a highly specialised and hi-tech force to track down terrorists and investigate acts of terrorism
Pakistan official
The first intake of officers will graduate in September after three months of training.

Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led "war on terror", has arrested hundreds of suspected militants from Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda network who crossed the border after the collapse of the Taleban.

Al-Qaeda is blamed for the 11 September, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Recently, Islamabad has faced growing accusations from Kabul that it is not doing enough to prevent Taleban fighters regrouping in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Key arrests

Officials in Islamabad have not confirmed the planned size of the Special Investigation Group.

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But they say it will focus on investigating money-laundering activities used to finance militant groups being targeted in the war on terror.

It will have access to extensive computer databases.

With FBI assistance, the Pakistani security forces have rounded up large numbers of al-Qaeda suspects in the past 18 months.

The biggest catches have been Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 11 September attacks, and Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be hijacker.

The US has poured millions of dollars into Pakistan in its drive to round up terror suspects.

Communications equipment and helicopters have been provided to try to seal the porous border with Afghanistan.

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