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Afghan Forces Capture Key Taleban Leader

Afghanistan security forces have captured an alleged senior leader of anti-government forces in the southern province of Kandahar. The suspect is believed responsible for a string of deadly terror attacks during the past several years.

Afghan officials said they have arrested Mullah Naqibullah Khan, an alleged leader of insurgents loyal to Afghanistan's former Taleban regime.

Security sources say Mullah Naqibullah, arrested with one of his deputies, was also carrying a satellite phone and documents, which could lead to further arrests.

Kandahar spokesman Khalid Pashtoon says the insurgents that Mullah Naqibullah allegedly commanded posed a major threat to the province, and security will likely improve now that their leader is in custody.

"About three or four-months ago, they ambushed one of the local government vehicles, and they killed all the people inside the vehicle," said Mr. Pashtoon. "And they have conducted a lot of operations on the coalition forces."

Mullah Naqibullah previously served as the head of security for the Taleban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who remains at large.

But Mr. Pashtoon says the two men have probably not seen each other since Afghan and U.S. forces overthrew the Taleban in 2001. As a result, the latest arrest is unlikely to lead to the capture of Mullah Omar, who Mr. Pashtoon says is probably no longer in Afghanistan.

Still, he adds, the capture of Mullah Naqibullah represents a major success for Afghanistan's new government.

"The government was chasing this guy and looking for this guy for the last one year, and finally we got him, and we are very happy about that," said Mr. Pashtoon.

Taleban loyalists have been staging hit-and-run attacks across Afghanistan, though the number and scope of such attacks have decreased from their peak in mid-2003.