Taliban spokesman arrested in Afghanistan

The government is confident that the man police arrested in Sar Hawza district of Paktika province is Zabiullah Mujahid.

Last Updated: Nov 14, 2011, 19:05 PM IST

Kabul: Afghan forces arrested a man believed to be a prominent Taliban spokesman in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, government officials said.

The government is confident that the man police arrested in Sar Hawza district of Paktika province is Zabiullah Mujahid, one of a handful of top spokesmen for the insurgent group, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

"We strongly believe it`s Zabiullah. Initial investigation shows he is Zabiullah Mujahid," Sediqi said. Afghan police have handed the man over to the Afghan intelligence service for further investigation, he said.

The name Zabiullah Mujahid however may be an alias used by several different people. A man answering to the name has been a spokesman for the Taliban for more than five years.

But though the phone number and e-mail address remain the same, reporters who have talked regularly with the spokesman have long noted that people with different voices sometimes answer his number.

Paktika, which borders Pakistan, is a hotbed of the insurgency and a stronghold of the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with al Qaeda.

A spokesman for the Paktika provincial government said there was an operation in Sar Hawza four days ago in which two people were captured. They were in a mountainous area with two motorcycles, some radio equipment and weapons, Mokhlis Afghan said.

"We are investigating. Is he Zabiullah Mujahed or not?" he said.

PTI