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Updated: September 17, 2009 09:48 IST

Taliban commander arrested in Swat Valley

AP
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Pakistan Army soldiers present masked men whom the army said are suicide attackers, for the media in Taliban's stronghold of Piochar in Swat Valley on September 14, 2009. In recent weeks, the army has reported an increasing flow of insurgents voluntarily surrendering, officials said.
AP Pakistan Army soldiers present masked men whom the army said are suicide attackers, for the media in Taliban's stronghold of Piochar in Swat Valley on September 14, 2009. In recent weeks, the army has reported an increasing flow of insurgents voluntarily surrendering, officials said.

Pakistan arrested a wanted militant commander accused of beheading troops in the Swat Valley, notching up another success in an offensive in the northwestern region that has pushed backed many of the insurgents, an army spokesman said on Thursday.

Sher Muhammad Qasab was captured this week at an undisclosed location in the valley, said Col. Akhtar Abbas

He had a bounty of Pakistani Rs 10 million ($121,000) on his head.

Pakistan’s army launched an offensive in April after militants seized control of much of the valley in the country’s volatile northwest. It has cleared much of Swat and killed more than 1,800 insurgents, although sporadic militant attacks continue.

Col. Abbas said Qasab had beheaded many troops in Swat when the Taliban was in control.

The army announced on Friday the capture of five other Swat Taliban commanders, including spokesman Muslim Khan and commander Mahmood Khan. The arrests were the first time the army had captured any senior commanders in the offensive.

The Swat offensive has been praised by the United States, which wants to see Pakistan fighting militants hiding out in its rugged northwest who are blamed for plotting and carrying out attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

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