Taliban deny reports about top military commander Mullah Baradar's arrest

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Kabul, Feb 16(ANI): The Afghan Taliban has denied reports that US and Pakistani forces have captured its top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

A Taliban spokesman said that Baradar was still in Afghanistan actively organizing the group's military and political activities.

"The rumours reported today on the arrest of Mullah Baradar are all untrue. It is a big lie," News.com.au quoted Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, as telling a foreign news agency.

"He is currently in Afghanistan, where he is leading all jihad activities... He is here with us and is in contact with us," he added.

Baradar has been billed as second only to Taliban founder Mohammad Omar and officials have said that his capture would be a major blow to the militia, which is fighting to bring down the Western-backed government in Afghanistan.

Ahmadi further charged that the speculations intended to deflect attention from a major US-led assault on a cluster of villages in Marjah in southern Afghanistan, where U.S. Marines have reportedly run into pockets of resistance.

"The sole goal of such baseless reporting and propaganda is to make up for the failure in Marjah. There is serious resistance ongoing in Marjah," he said.

Earlier, US Government officials had said that Baradar was apprehended through a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, and has been in Pakistani custody for several days.

It was believed that Baradar was being interrogated, and his capture has provided a window into the Taliban that could lead to the capture of other senior insurgents.

They said they are particularly hopeful about Baradar revealing the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group's spiritual leader. (ANI)

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