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Pakistan: Top Taliban Commander Captured


Pakistani security forces say they have wounded and captured a prominent Taliban commander and five other militants after a shootout near the border with Afghanistan. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Islamabad.

Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told VOA Mullah Mansoor Dadullah along with the other Taliban militants were caught entering Pakistan from Afghanistan at paramilitary check post in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

"They were challenged and thereafter a firefight took place between them. All six of them were injured and then they were apprehended by the Frontier Corps. Of course they were provided with first aid there and then they were brought back towards the camp," he said.

Local officials reported a different version of Dadullah's capture.

They say the Taliban militant was hiding in a compound that was raided by Pakistani security forces.

Mansoor Dadullah is the brother of a former top military commander for the Taliban, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in an Afghan and NATO military operation last May in southern Afghanistan.

There has been growing pressure from Western nations on Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants launching attacks inside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The arrest came days after a senior U.S. official said that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar were operating from inside Pakistan.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mullah Omar and other commanders were directing the insurgency in Afghanistan from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.

Pakistan Army spokesman General Abbas says Dadullah's capture does not confirm that top Taliban leaders are inside Pakistan.

"We reject that. We think that we are in a good position to know exactly who is where. We absolutely consider this as baseless and unfounded news," he said.

Afghan authorities have long said al-Qaida and Taliban leaders receive refuge in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions.

Many Taliban and al-Qaida militants fled to the Pakistani border areas after U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban militia's government in late 2001.

Pakistani forces have carried out military operations to clear the border area of militants, and hundreds of people, including army troops, have been killed in clashes with insurgents.

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