A journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, has been reported missing from the federal capital since Sunday, leading to speculation of him having been picked up by intelligence agencies for his article suggesting that last week's terrorist attack on the naval airbase, PNS Mehran, was retaliation to the Navy's crackdown on al-Qaeda operatives and sympathisers within the service.

The first of Mr. Shahzad two-part article appeared on May 27 in the Asia Times Online, of which he is the Pakistan bureau chief. He has been missing since 5 p.m. on Sunday, when he left his home in Islamabad to participate in a programme of the Dunya news channel.

A parallel narrative on Mr. Shahzad's disappearance was he had been picked up by the intelligence agencies on suspicion of writing for the al-Qaeda and would be released by Monday night. Meanwhile, Twitter was abuzz with “Free Saleem Shahzad” messages though there was accompanying scepticism on whether he had been detained by the intelligence agencies.

In the PNS Mehran case, a former naval commando who had been court martialled has been taken into custody along with two others from Lahore as part of ongoing efforts to get to the bottom of the 17-hour-long siege that is widely believed to have been conducted with inside information.

Amid indications of a possible operation in North Waziristan to wipe out terrorist havens, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that helicopters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had swooped into the tribal agency from Afghanistan to take away five Taliban leaders.

This was almost immediately denied by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and neither was there any word from the Foreign Office on such an incursion — a particularly sensitive issue now following the unilateral U.S. operation in Abbottabad on May 2 to get al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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