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Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan

Sept. 30, 2009 at 4:43 PM   |   Comments

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- A close associate of Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud and two others were arrested Wednesday in the volatile tribal areas of Pakistan, sources say.

Sources to Pakistani news agency Online International say Mohammad Shah and two others were arrested in the North-West Frontier province. The source identified Shah as wanted for attacks on security forces and kidnapping.

Hakeemullah Mehsud, a cousin of former Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, came to power following the death of Baitullah in an Aug. 5 airstrike.

The reports of the death of the former Taliban leader sent the militant group scrambling for new leadership.

Faqir Mohammed, a deputy chief, made an independent claim to the leadership, saying he had the "right to replace Baitullah when he is unable to work."

Baitullah Mehsud had pledged his support to al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban. He was also linked to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Airstrikes in the region forced Hakeemullah to cancel a key Taliban meeting scheduled for early September.

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