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2 more Taliban leaders held

world Updated: Feb 19, 2010 01:01 IST
Dexter Filkins (NYT)

Two senior Taliban leaders have been arrested in recent days inside Pakistan, officials said on Thursday, as American and Pakistani intelligence agents continued to press their offensive against the group’s leadership after the capture of the insurgency’s military commander last month.

Afghan officials said the Taliban’s “shadow governors” for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had been detained in Pakistan. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, was detained in Faisalabad, and Mullah Mohammed of Baghlan province was captured in an undisclosed city.

The arrests come on the heels of the capture of Abdul Ghani Bardar, the Taliban’s military commander and the deputy to Mullah Mohammed Omar, terror outfit’s founder. Baradar was arrested in a joint operation by the CIA and ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

The arrests were made by Pakistani officials, the Afghans said, but it seemed probable that CIA officers accompanied them, as they did in the arrest of Baradar. Pakistani officials declined to comment.

Together, the three arrests mark the most significant blow to the Taliban’s leadership since the US-backed war began eight years ago. They also demonstrate the extent to which the Taliban’s senior leaders have been able to use Pakistan as a sanctuary to plan and mount attacks in Afghanistan.

Mohammed Omar, the governor of Kunduz Province, said the two Taliban shadow governors had a close working relationship with Baradar.