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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Taleban 'terror chief' arrested
A high-ranking Taleban commander has been captured by coalition troops in central Afghanistan, a US military official said.

Afghan and US soldiers
Afghan government fighters helped US soldiers make the arrest

Mullah Janan, who is thought to have helped the Taleban liaise with al-Qaeda, was captured in the province of Uruzgan.

Authorities hope he can shed some light on the whereabouts of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.

News of Mullah Janan's arrest follows a statement by the Afghan Government saying it had held talks with moderates from the former Taleban regime.

The statement by a senior official in the president's office, is believed to be the first official confirmation of rumours that Afghanistan's present rulers have been talking to their predecessors.

Low level talks

Nearly two years after the Taleban was toppled, the Islamist movement's sympathisers in southern and eastern Afghanistan attack foreign troops and government forces on a near-daily basis.

President Hamid Karzai has been urging moderates from the Taleban to engage with his government.

A spokesman for the President said members of the Taleban who did not, in his words, have the blood of the Afghan people on their hands, had approached the administration.

Hamid Karzai
President Karzai wants to talk to moderates amongst the Taleban
It is understood that some provincial governors and low level members of the former regime have had discussions.

If talks have indeed taken place they will have focused on the deteriorating security situation in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Joint operation

Mullah Janan's capture is a triumph for the US forces in Afghanistan and for the fledgling government army they are training.

According to the US military spokesman, the Taleban commander was apprehended at a checkpoint manned by US paramilitary and Afghan government soldiers.

A former governor of Faryab province, Mullah Janan is also wanted in connection with a rocket attack on an American base in Uruzgan.

Over 300 people, including many militants, have died in violent attacks since the beginning of August.




SEE ALSO:
Top ex-Taleban minister 'freed'
07 Oct 03  |  South Asia
Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan
15 Oct 03  |  South Asia
'Taleban fighters killed in raid'
15 Oct 03  |  South Asia
Afghans 'live in climate of fear'
29 Jul 03  |  South Asia
Timeline: Afghanistan
31 May 03  |  Country profiles


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