Source Pravda.Ru

Taliban Spokesman Muslim Khan Arrested

Pakistan 's army says it has arrested Muslim Khan, the Taliban spokesman in the Swat Valley, and four other militant leaders from the region.

These are the first major arrests of members of the Swat Taliban leadership.

The army said Friday that the militant spokesman and fellow detainee Mahmood Khan both had bounties of 10 million rupees ($121,000) on their head.

Pakistan has waged a four-month-old offensive in the valley, which was once dominated by the Taliban, the Associated Press reports.

News agencies also report, Muslim Khan was recently appointed chief spokesman after the arrest last month of the Taliban's previous spokesman Maulvi Omar.

Mr Khan is from the Swat valley, where army declared its anti-Taliban offensive a success in July.

The army said that Mr Khan was apprehended after a "successful operation"

It was also reported, confirming Khan's arrest, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said militants had no option but surrender. "They will either be killed or arrested," Malik told reporters in the capital, Islamabad.

The military officials say more than 2,000 insurgents and more than 300 soldiers have been killed in the Swat offensive. There has been no independent verification of militant casualties.

Security forces have cleared much of the former tourist valley but there are still pockets of resistance.

But despite their success, the military had failed to kill or capture any top Taliban leaders from Swat until Khan's arrest.

The top Taliban leader in Swat, a self-styled cleric called Fazlullah, avoided the television cameras and telephone interviews. The army said in July that Fazlullah was believed to have been wounded but Khan had denied it, Reuters reports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a briefing in Beijing that the question about the shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria had not been resolved yet. However, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said that S-300 missile systems had been delivered to Syria last month

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