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Senior Taliban Commander Arrested in Northwest Pakistan


Pakistani officials say police in the North West Frontier Province have arrested senior Taliban commander Rafiullah and six of his associates.

Officials say Rafiullah was captured Wednesday during a search operation in the Hangu district.

Hours after the arrest, nearly 200 of the militants' supporters gathered at a police station in Doaba and tried to free the detainees, but Pakistani troops dispersed them.

Also Wednesday, in the Khyber tribal region where a militant group was threatening the provincial capital, Peshawar, government officials and tribal elders signed a peace deal.

Tribal leaders pledged to guarantee that militant leader Mangal Bagh and his group, Lashkar-e-Islam would stop hostilities against the government.

The head of the Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik said some paramilitary forces will remain in Khyber to ensure the militants do not return.

In an unrelated development, Pakistani lawyers held a protest rally in Islamabad and other cities Thursday, demanding the restoration of judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf.

A spokesman for deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry told VOA Deewa Radio the lawyers will continue their peaceful protests until all deposed judges are reinstated.

The protesters chanted slogans against President Musharraf and the head of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari wants to link reinstatement to constitutional amendments, while the leader of the Muslim League-N, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, wants an unconditional reinstatement.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.


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