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Afghan Governor: Two Senior Taliban Leaders Arrested in Pakistan


Afghan officials say authorities in Pakistan have arrested two senior Taliban commanders, who were acting as "shadow governors" in northern Afghanistan. The reported arrests come days after U.S. and Pakistani officials revealed they have been interrogating the Taliban's top operational commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani, also known as Mullah Baradar.

Afghan officials say authorities captured two Taliban commanders who oversaw the Afghan provinces of Baghlan and Kunduz.

Mohammad Omar, the governor of Kunduz, told reporters that authorities in the western Pakistani city of Quetta arrested Mullah Abdul Salam, who led Kunduz province for the Taliban, and Mullah Mohammad, who oversaw Baghlan province.

Pakistani officials have not commented on the reported arrests, but Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said earlier this week Pakistan had arrested several suspected Taliban insurgents.

It also is unclear whether information from Mullah Baradar's ongoing interrogation led to the arrests. U.S. and Pakistani authorities arrested the Afghan Taliban's second-in-command in Karachi last week.

U.S. officials have said they strongly believe fugitive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is possibly hiding in Quetta, where he oversees the group's activities.

Former security chief for Pakistan's tribal regions, Mahmood Shah, tells VOA the recent arrests do not prove a Taliban council in Quetta, known as the "Quetta Shura," exists. He says they are just further examples of how porous Pakistan's border is with Afghanistan. "There is no shura as such, I would say. But these people use Pakistani identity cards, you know, which [are] easy to obtain, and maybe passports even," he said.

Shah also says that Mullah Baradar should face a Pakistani court for extradition before being sent back to Afghanistan. "I think there is no further requirement of Pakistan to keep him or anyone else as prisoner," he said.

Earlier, Afghan intelligence officials requested that Pakistan or any other country holding Mullah Baradar hand him over to Afghanistan.

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