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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistan Plot Suspects Head to Court

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Three men suspected of plotting an attack on American diplomats appeared in court Monday, as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca met with Pakistani officials to discuss the global war on terror.

The men -- including one who said he was to ram an explosive-laden car into the diplomats' vehicle -- were ordered held in custody for at least two weeks as authorities investigated the owner of a warehouse where police found ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used to make bombs, said Karachi Police Superintendent Farooq Awan.

"We want to know whether he was involved or whether this was just a business deal," Awan said.

In Karachi, a chaotic and often violent city of 14 million people, police on Sunday said they found ammonium nitrate in a vehicle and captured the three men, whose admissions led police to the warehouse packed with 250 sacks of the chemical.

Militants have targeted foreigners in Pakistan since the country gave its support to the U.S.-led war on terror. Until the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Pakistan had been a staunch supporter of the Taliban but reversed course after Afghanistan's rulers refused to surrender Osama bin Laden and his operatives. The policy change enraged Muslim militants at home. Foreigners have been targeted in attacks this year that have left several people dead and prompted Western embassies to evacuate staff and their families.

U.S. intelligence believes senior al-Qaida operatives may be hiding in Pakistan -- either in the remote tribal regions or in the congested cities, possibly southern Karachi. The Pakistan government says it is doing all it can to keep them out but that Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is difficult to seal.

"I can assure you that Pakistan will not be allowed to be used as a base for any operation against any civilized country of the world," Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told reporters Monday.

"But the fact remains that we have a very long border with Afghanistan. It is a very porous border. It's virtually impossible to plug," he said.

Rocca's visit to Pakistan is the first since October elections gave a boost to militant religious parties. They now control two key provinces that border Afghanistan where U.S. intelligence believes fugitive Taliban and al-Qaida operatives are hiding. Since coming to power, the parties have released dozens of Islamic militants.

These developments are likely to be high on Rocca's agenda, as well as a promise by the religious parties to deny permission for U.S. forces to conduct operations on their territory.