Pakistani authorities arrest more than a dozen militants in blow to Afghan Taliban
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Pakistani authorities, aided by U.S. intelligence, said Thursday they have apprehended more militant chiefs following the capture of the Afghan Taliban’s No. 2 figure — arrests that together represent the biggest blow to the militant organization since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
The roundups, which could still be under way, occurred as 15,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan forces are pressing the Taliban in their southern Afghan stronghold of Marjah, which had been the biggest town in the area under militant control.
The latest arrests took place late Wednesday and early Thursday when nine militants linked to alQaida were nabbed near Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi, where the Taliban’s deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was picked up several days ago.
Others picked up in the recent sweeps included the Taliban’s ’shadow’ governors in two provinces in northern Afghanistan, according to the official governor of the Afghan province of Kunduz, Mohammad Omar, and two Pakistani intelligence officers.
The Pakistani intelligence officials spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because they did not have the authority to speak to the media.
Communications intercepted by U.S. authorities played a key role in tracking and arresting the suspects, who were in Karachi buying bomb-making equipment, the officials said. They were taken to Islamabad for questioning.