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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Top Taleban commander 'arrested'
Mullah Dadullah
Mullah Dadullah on al-Jazeera TV last February
A top Taleban leader, Mullah Dadullah, has been captured in Afghanistan, Afghan officials have told the BBC.

The senior military commander was said to have been detained by international troops in southern Kandahar province.

Mullah Dadullah was a member of the Taleban's 10-man leadership council before the US-led invasion in 2001.

Kandahar's governor said three members of the council had been arrested but did not give names. The Taleban deny Mullah Dadullah has been captured.

There has been no official confirmation of the arrest from the Afghan government or US military.

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has been pursuing Mullah Dadullah for more than four years.

'Brutal'

Mullah Dadullah has been blamed for much of the recent violence in the southern province of Helmand where thousands of British troops are being deployed.

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Afghan and US officials say scores of militants were killed in a battle there this week.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says Mullah Dadullah is very close to the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar. Mullah Dadullah has survived a number of attacks and lost one leg in battle.

He has a reputation for being one of the Taleban's most brutal commanders.

High-ranking Afghan officials have told the BBC that he was captured in Kandahar and is being held by the coalition forces.

There are no details as to how he was caught.

Governor Assadullah Khalid told Reuters: "We've arrested three high-ranking Taleban, members of their leadership council."

Fierce fighting

Three years ago, Mullah Dadullah told the BBC that the Taleban, deposed in 2001, hoped to regain power in Afghanistan.


He said the Taleban would fight until "Jews and Christians, all foreign crusaders" were expelled from Afghanistan.

In December 2005 a court in Pakistan sentenced Mullah Dadullah to life in prison for trying to kill conservative Islamic politician Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani in 2004. Mr Sherani escaped unhurt.

Up to 100 people have died this week in some of Afghanistan's fiercest fighting since US-led forces ousted the Taleban.

In addition to the Helmand fighting, at least 25 militants died in two separate clashes in Kandahar.

A US national was killed by a suicide bomber in Herat. Another bomber blew himself up at an Afghan army base in the city of Ghazni as a US military convoy was passing. The bomber and a civilian were killed.

Our correspondent says there is no doubt the strength of the insurgents has been increasing and the thousands of British and international troops moving into the south will have their hands full.


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