Afghan governor says two Taliban shadow governors arrested
A provincial governor said Thursday that two Taliban shadow governors for two provinces in northern Afghanistan have been arrested by authorities in Pakistan, DPA reported.
Mullah Salam, the Taliban-designated governor for the northern province of Kunduz, and Mullah Mohammad, the shadow governor of neighbouring Baghlan, were arrested in Quetta, Kunduz's provincial governor Mohammad Omar said.
Omar did not say how he got the information, but said the arrest took place some 10 days ago.
"This is a big achievement in clamping down on the opposition members, because they were the ones who were leading the region," Omar told a press conference in Kunduz city on Wednesday. "I don't see anybody else who could lead the whole north-eastern region," he added.
Two Pakistani military and intelligence officials reached by the German Press Agency dpa said they were not aware of the arrests.
"For the moment we don't have any information," an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. "Neither we can confirm it nor deny."
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid rejected Omar's claim, saying that it was propaganda by the Afghan and NATO forces to hide their military failures in the country.
"Mullah Salam has not been arrested," Mujahid told dpa, by phone from an undisclosed location.
"The thing is that the Americans are seeing defeat in Marjah and in order to divert the people's attentions from there they say these things. They want to hide the resistance they have faced in Marjah and want to weaken the morale of our Mujahideen."
Thousands of Afghan and NATO forces retook "key areas" in Marjah town, a Taliban bastion in the southern province of Helmand this week, in the largest joint military operation since the ouster of the Taliban regime.
Although Afghan and NATO officials have claimed early success in the operation, they also admit that sporadic small arms fire, roadside mines and booby traps have hampered the advance of combined forces moving through the town.
The announcement of the arrest of two senior Taliban officials came three days after Pakistani officials confirmed that their forces arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani, known as Mullah Baradar, in a raid in the port city Karachi.
Mullah Baradar was the second-in-command in the Taliban movement and was commanding their military operations inside Afghanistan.