Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pakistani Taliban leader arrested - BBC

Pakistan's military says it has arrested another important Taliban leader in troubled Swat district.

Sher Mohammad Qasab, a militant commander in the Charbagh area, was taken into custody on Wednesday.

He is the latest Taliban commander to be captured in recent days. The militants' chief spokesman, Muslim Khan, was detained last week.

Senior officials have also said government forces are closing in on the Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah.

His whereabouts are unknown. The Taliban denied reports that he was wounded and close to death earlier this year.

"Sher Mohammad Qasab was taken into custody after an army operation," military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told the BBC.

"He was injured in the operation. We will release more details later."

Sher Mohammad Qasab's name figures prominently in a list of wanted militants issued by the Pakistani government.

The reward for his capture was one million rupees ($12,050). He is regarded as a senior leader in the Swat Taliban's hierarchy.

Mr Qasab was originally a member of the banned Tehrik Nizam Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) organisation, but later joined Maulana Fazlullah's Taliban.

He is a butcher by profession.

This is the second instance of senior Taliban leaders being captured in Swat within a week.

On 11 September, Pakistan security forces arrested five senior commanders including chief Spokesman Muslim Khan.

Subsequently, the army has said it has gleaned much information about the Taliban's operation in the area and the whereabouts of senior commanders from his interrogation.

They say that more arrests are expected to be made soon.

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