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Posted: 3/25/2002 9:53:04 AM EDT
Afghan Authorities Arrest Taliban Commander Mon Mar 25, 3:04 AM ET CHAMAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Afghan authorities have arrested an important Taliban commander in the southern border town of Spinboldak, an official said on Monday. Mullah Rehmatullah, who was commander of the Tangi area in Takhta Pul district, 50 km (30 miles) south of Kandahar, was arrested on Sunday in a raid in Spinboldak, across the border from the Pakistani town of Chaman, the official said. The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that Rehmatullah had been responsible for handling a stream of foreign fighters coming into Afghanistan (news - web sites) to fight alongside the ultra-Islamic Taliban. Rehmatullah registered the foreign fighters, mostly Arabs and Pakistanis, and deployed them in various parts of the country, he said. "We are interrogating him as we suspect he must possess large quantities of weapons and ammunition." Most of the Taliban's top leadership, including top leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, has evaded capture. But in February, U.S. Marines and their Afghan allies captured Mullah Mohammad Chamkani, a former adviser to reclusive one-eyed leader Omar, in Takhta Pul district. Former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef and Taliban spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen were caught in Pakistan in January. Zaeef was deported to Afghanistan, where he was picked up by U.S. forces. The Kandahar region was the Taliban stronghold until they were swept out of power by U.S. forces following the September 11 attacks on the United States blamed on Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), who lived in Afghanistan as a "guest" of the Taliban. U.S.-led coalition forces have adopted a carrot and stick policy in the Kandahar region to dissuade people from sheltering fugitives from the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda network. On March 23, U.S. aircraft scattered pamphlets over southern Afghanistan offering rewards unimaginable to the average Afghan for help in arresting Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
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