Pakistan troops detain Mehsud spokesman
Security forces captured the Pakistani Taliban's top spokesman in an operation near the Afghan border, a government official said Tuesday, dealing another blow to the militants following the reported killing of their leader earlier this month.The seizure of Maulvi Umar follows government claims of disarray in the leadership of the Taliban over who should replace their chief, Baitullah Mehsud, who is believed to have been killed in a CIA missile strike on Aug. 5.
Umar was captured along with his two associates in a village in the Mohmand tribal region Monday night while he was travelling in a car to South Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold, said Javed Khan, a local government administrator.
"Maulvi Umar is in our custody, and he is being questioned," Khan told The Associated Press without giving any further details.
Earlier, three intelligence officials said local tribal elders assisted troops in locating Umar in the village of Khawazeo. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to media, said Umar's arrest would likely be publicly announced later Tuesday.
As the official spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the umbrella organization formed in 2007 for various regional and tribal militant movements, Umar frequently called journalists to claim responsibility for terrorist attacks in Pakistan. He was known to be close to Mehsud.