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Pakistan claims arrest of militant commander

Associated Press

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan arrested a wanted militant commander accused of beheading troops in the Swat Valley, notching up another success in an offensive in the northwestern region that has pushed back many of the insurgents, an army spokesman said today.

Sher Muhammad Qasab was captured this week at an undisclosed location in the valley, said Col. Akhtar Abbas

He had a bounty of more than $100,000 on his head.

Pakistan’s army launched an offensive in April after militants seized control of much of the valley in the country’s volatile northwest. It has cleared much of Swat and killed more than 1,800 insurgents, although sporadic militant attacks continue.

Abbas said Qasab had beheaded many troops in Swat when the Taliban was in control.

The army announced last week the capture of five other Swat Taliban commanders, including spokesman Muslim Khan. The arrests were the first time the army had captured any senior commanders in the offensive.

The Swat offensive has been praised by the United States, which wants to see Pakistan fighting militants hiding out in its rugged northwest.

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