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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Pakistan Arrests Top Taliban Aide

By VOA News
18 August 2009

Pakistani officials say security forces have captured the Pakistani Taliban's top spokesman in an operation near the Afghan border.

Officials say Maulvi Omar was seized in the northwestern Mohmand tribal region, a center of militant activity. Omar served as a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and a top aide to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was reported killed earlier this month in a U.S. missile strike.

A local Pakistani television station, ARY One World, and the Associated Press report that Omar has confirmed Mehsud was killed in the strike. The Taliban have repeatedly denied his death, saying only that he has been ill.

Mehsud is blamed for a wave of attacks across Pakistan, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Pakistani police say another senior militant commander, Qair Saifullah, was captured this week.

The army has waged a months-long campaign to flush out Taliban militants in northwestern Swat Valley and surrounding areas. Officials say the region is largely clear of militants, and that troops are only encountering pockets of resistance.

Pakistani troops are now focusing on South Waziristan, pounding militant hideouts ahead of what they say will be an all-out assault of Mehsud's former stronghold.

Meanwhile, top U.S. and military officials are in Pakistan. On Monday, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, held talks with Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke also is in the region and is expected to travel to Afghanistan for Thursday's presidential election.

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