Article Correspondent: Maaz Khan in Quetta
PAKISTANI security forces wounded and captured a top Taliban commander in a shootout, police said, days after Islamabad denied the presence of senior militants on its soil.
Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the brother of the Islamist movement's slain military commander in Afghanistan, and seven other rebels were seized in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, they said.
Dadullah had been in charge of operations against Western troops in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, but there were recent reports that he had been sacked by Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammed Omar.
"He has been wounded and arrested early this morning. He resisted when our men launched an operation" in the village of Gowal Ismail Zai, said Baluchistan police chief Saud Gohar.
One of Dadullah's guards died of his wounds after a shootout with security forces but the injured commander himself was "out of danger", Gohar said, dismissing local media reports that Dadullah had died.
In Kabul, Afghan defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi welcomed the news of Dadullah's capture but would not comment further.
A senior Afghan official said on condition of anonymity that reports received by the government suggested the capture was linked to a dispute between Dadullah and the Taliban's central command.
Dadullah had succeeded his elder brother - the Taliban's most top military commander Mullah Dadullah - who was killed in a joint Afghan-NATO operation in southern Afghanistan in May 2007.
The Taliban said in a statement late December that they had sacked Mansoor Dadullah "because he disobeyed orders of the Islamic Emirate" of the Taliban.
But a spokesman for the commander denied that he was fired, leading to speculation about infighting among the rebels.
This came at the same time that media reports emerged that British intelligence agents were involved in talks with senior Taliban in Helmand, although it was never clear who they might have been.
News of Dadullah's capture comes a day after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned that Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the country's border regions posed a direct threat to the Islamabad government.
Pakistan on Saturday dismissed an unnamed senior US official's assertion that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were operating from regions along the Afghan border.
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My Input: Unknown to many, this capture is a major breakthrough in the hunt and crack-down to capture or eliminate threats standing for the IIM and Haji Movements. Latest reports (from an un-named source) have stated that the IIM are currently running atleast 4 operative DHG bases in the surrounding mountains of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
The more we can capture the better, not just to win the battle against members of the IIM, but to gather and obtain more Intel regarding the locations and DOAs (Dates of Attack) which will help decompress the current situation.
After Bhutto's assassination, and the recent Israeli Force attacks on Gaza, captures like this are bliss. Personally I don't mind if the captive is dead or alive - it just means that's one less asshole out in the open who can't function correctly.
"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." - Josť Narosky