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Report: Punjab Taliban leader captured

Dec. 30, 2009 at 11:27 PM

LAHORE, Pakistan, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Pakistani authorities in the Punjab say they've captured the provincial Taliban leader suspected of masterminding the twin blasts in Lahore this month.

Khalilullah, who goes by one name, is described as the right-hand man of the late Pakistani Taliban Chief Baitullah Mehsud and is believed to be on a U.S. listed of wanted terrorists. He was captured following a raid 12 days ago at a residence in the cantonment area of Lahore, the provincial capital and Pakistan's second largest city, Dawn reported, quoting sources.

Baitullah Mehsud was killed in August in a suspected U.S. drone attack.

Another teenager, suspected of being a trained suicide bomber, also was captured in the raid, the report said. It was not clear why Khalilullah's capture had not been reported earlier.

Khalilullah is suspected of masterminding the Dec. 7 twin blasts in the Moon Market in Lahore's Iqbal town, in which 29 people died. Police said they found explosive material and sensitive documents in the house where he was living, the report said.

The report, quoting sources, said police captured another eight suspected terror suspects based on information by Khalilullah.

The Taliban leader was reported to have told investigators he had a team of 600 trained suicide bombers.

Growing violence in the province has raised concerns about the reach of Pakistani militants operating from far away tribal regions in the country.

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