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Pakistani Taleban Leader Kills Himself to Avoid Capture


Pakistani authorities say a top Taleban militant and former Guantanamo Bay prisoner has blown himself up to avoid arrest by Pakistani forces.

Officials say Abdullah Mehsud killed himself with a hand grenade Tuesday as Pakistani intelligence agents surrounded his hideout in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

They say Mehsud was found at the home of an Islamist politician in the town of Zhob, which borders the Waziristan tribal region. Three of his associates were detained.

The one-legged Mehsud was captured by Afghan forces in 2001 and transferred to the U.S. prison for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He was released from Guantanamo in 2004 and returned to Pakistan, where he led hundreds of militants in attacks on Pakistani troops in South Waziristan.

Pakistani officials say Mehsud's death is a major achievement for the government as it faces U.S. pressure to crack down on Taleban and al-Qaida bases near the Afghan border.

Mehsud also was wanted in Pakistan for the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in 2004, one of whom was killed in a botched rescue attempt by Pakistani forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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