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Authorities Try to Confirm Capture of Top Taleban Leader

Authorities in Afghanistan say they may have captured a top Taleban military commander during a major upsurge in clashes between the militia and U.S.-led coalition and Afghan government forces. At least 100 people have been reported killed in fighting over the past few days. Afghan leaders are blaming neighboring Pakistan for fueling the Taleban insurgency, a charge Pakistan flatly rejected.

An Afghan military official says an insurgent captured earlier this week in the southern province of Kandahar could be Mullah Dadullah, a senior Taleban commander, who lost a leg during the group's rise to power in the 1990s.

A Taleban spokesman denied the senior rebel leader had been captured.

Dadullah is a close personal aid to the fugitive Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and is on a list of top terrorist leaders wanted by the United States. U.S.-led coalition forces, who are reported to have captured the man, say they are looking into the reports, but could not confirm if the captured man is the feared rebel leader.

There has been a sharp rise in Taleban attacks across the country.

After a series of deadly clashes earlier this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out at neighbor Pakistan.

Speaking late Thursday, he accused Pakistan's hard-line religious schools of encouraging students to join the militant Islamic Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has dismissed the allegations, saying such statements could undermine both countries' efforts to combat terrorism.

Speaking to the Pakistan senate Friday, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said he was saddened by President Karzai's remarks.

"Let us not lose our cool," he said. "What is needed is close cooperation, coordination and intelligence sharing. Simply by finger pointing, you will only make the situation worse."

Pakistan, a close U.S.-ally in the war on terrorism, insists it is doing all it can to help secure the border and defeat the Taleban. Some 80,000 Pakistani troops have been deployed to the border areas, where the militants are thought to be hiding out.

The violence in Afghanistan comes as NATO peacekeepers expand their presence throughout the country, and prepare to take control of security operations from the U.S.-led coalition forces by the end of the year.

The Taleban was ousted from power in Afghanistan by the U.S.-led coalition in 2001, after it gave safe haven to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida followers.