ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani court has ordered an American detained for two more weeks after he was accused of trying to enter a militant stronghold near the Afghan border, police said Monday.
The extended detention of 20-year-old Jude Kenan of Raleigh, North Carolina comes as America's top diplomat in the region praised Pakistan for its military offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
"We have seen the government has shown the determination and willingness to see this through to the end," Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
The United States has been urging Pakistan to step up its battle against Islamic extremists in the tribal areas. Militants there are blamed for rising attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan itself.
Pakistan launched a major offensive in August against militants in Bajur region that it claims has killed more than 1,000 insurgents. Its troops are also fighting in the Swat valley.
But the militants have put up strong resistance and have stepped up suicide attacks around the country. Many Pakistanis want the government to sever its ties with Washington.
Kenan, the American detainee, tried to enter the Mohmand tribal region a week ago. Authorities have not said whether they suspect him of contact with Taliban or al-Qaida militants. Kenan's family says he was in the country to visit his Pakistani father.
It was unclear if Kenan is seeking bail. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, which has assisted Kenan, had no comment.
It was not immediately clear if Boucher discussed Kenan's case during meetings with Pakistan's president and other officials held since his arrival Sunday.
Boucher danced around questions about stepped up missile attacks by suspected U.S. drones on targets within Pakistan, saying he was not a military officer.
But he did say that some of the reports of the attacks and civilian casualties were wrong.
"Everytime something explodes there, the U.S. is accused of doing it," said Boucher.
The strikes, which U.S. officials rarely confirm or deny, are angering Pakistan's new leaders, who say they fan militancy in the lawless border region and make their job more difficult.