The Pakistani authorities on Thursday ordered the evacuation of a northern area of the country, near the border with China, of tourists and foreigners after receiving intelligence reports of the possible presence of Osama bin Laden in the area. According to Arab daily al-Hayat, the presence of the al-Qaeda leader was reported in the extreme north of Pakistan in an area that borders China and Afghanistan. For this reason hundreds of tourists – most of them European – were made to leave the Chalinji Pass and the Wakhan corridor and the security forces closed all access to the area.
The intelligence reports that had reached Islamabad indicated that bin Laden and his deputy Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri – along with other leading figures of the al-Qaeda terror network – had decided to use the area bordering China as a secure refuge as it is not controlled by the US military.
Al-Hayat says the reports were confirmed by Western embassy sources in Islamabad, who indicated that the choice of sticking near the China border was because US military bombers would not attack that area for fear of hitting China.