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Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad arrested

world Updated: Jul 26, 2009 19:09 IST

IANS
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Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad, who brokered a peace deal between the militants and the government about six months ago in Swat Valley, was arrested by Pakistan authorities on Sunday from northwestern city of Peshawar, a news report in Islamabad said.

The influential cleric and his two sons, Ziaullah and Rizwanullah, were held following a raid in an area in the capital city of the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), Geo TV reported citing official sources.

The cleric, the head of the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi, was arrested for speaking against the government and encouraging violence and terrorism, the report said.

In February, Sufi Muhammad negotiated a peace deal with the provincial government that allowed the Taliban to enforce Islamic (Sharia) law in exchange for shedding violence.

But the deal, which was widely seen as allowing the Taliban to take control of the restive Swat Valley, collapsed in April when the Taliban advanced into neighbouring districts, coming within 100 km of Islamabad, forcing the government to launch a massive military offensive against them.

The cleric and his sons have been shifted to an undisclosed location.

Earlier on Sunday, it was reported that Sufi Muhammad has a residence in Peshawar where he was living for the last one and half months.