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Pak forces arrest Taliban spokesman in Swat

Last Updated: Friday, September 11, 2009 - 12:28

Islamabad: Pakistani security forces have arrested the spokesman of the Taliban in the Swat valley, the military said on Friday.
The spokesman Muslim Khan and four other Taliban leaders were arrested from Swat "in a successful operation”, the military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said.

The Army launched an offensive in the Swat valley and adjoining districts of North West Frontier Province in late April after militants began expanding their influence nearer to Islamabad.

Military officials say more than 2,000 insurgents and over 300 soldiers have been killed in the operation, which has moved into its final stages.

The show of force in Swat has helped allay fears among Western allies that the nuclear-armed Muslim nation was failing to confront spreading Islamist militancy.

Security forces have cleared much of the region, but there are still some pockets of resistance.

While the commander of the Taliban in Swat, Fazlullah, avoided interviews and television cameras, Khan became the public face of the Taliban in Swat.

The Army reported in July that Fazlullah was believed to have been wounded but Khan denied it.

While the Taliban stronghold in Swat has been smashed, the Army has also carried out operations in recent weeks against militants in the Khyber region who have been attacking truck convoys carrying supplies to Afghan and Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.

The Army has also sealed off the main Taliban force in South Waziristan, the most remote of Pakistan`s seven tribal regions.

Last month, US drone aircraft launched a missile attack in South Waziristan that killed Baitullah Mehsud, the overall leader of various factions of the Pakistani Taliban.

The Taliban have named a new leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who has sworn revenge, though authorities believe that the killing of Baitullah has led to a rift between rival factions.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, September 11, 2009 - 12:28

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