"Voice of the Taliban" is Captured

Authorities in Pakistan say they have arrested the leading Taliban spokesman Latifullah Hakimi in the restive and remote Balochistan province:

“Our security forces captured him today, and he is in our custody,” said Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao.

Mr Hakimi has spoken regularly on behalf of the Taleban, who US-led forces drove from power in Afghanistan after the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said he was detained in Balochistan province.

Pakistan’s authorities publicly withdrew their support for the Taleban after the ruling Afghan militia were ousted four years ago, but Pakistan’s Western allies have accused it of not severing ties completely.

The BBC’s Barbara Plett in Islamabad says Mr Hakimi’s arrest is being seen as a message that Islamabad is doing whatever it can.

She says analysts see this as a bigger blow to the Taleban than the capture of many of its military commanders, because Latifullah Hakimi was regarded as the voice of the group.

Mr Hakimi’s exact ties to the Taleban have not been verified, but according to Afghan and US officials quoted by the Associated Press news agency, he is believed to represent factions within the rebel group.

He was a key contact for journalists seeking to establish whether or not the Taleban had carried out particular attacks in Afghanistan.

In the worst fighting since Afghanistanheld its elections last month, Afghan forces killed 31 Taliban fighters near the border with Pakistan on Monday.

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