Top Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Feb.25 : A top Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah Akhund believed to e close to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and part of the inner core of Mullah Omar's coterie has been arrested in Lahore where he had come to 'collect' funds.

Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a former Defence Minister in the Taliban's Majlis-e-Shura or executive council, was recently arrested along with two Afghan nationals by intelligence agencies in Lahore, a local daily reported on Monday.

Obaidullah has been arrested for the second time. The Taliban leader was earlier arrested in Quetta in 2006. He was released after nine months and fled to Afghanistan.

Quoting intelligence sources, the report said Obaidullah came to Pakistan in the first week of January to collect funds.

He had contacted several "influential personalities with links to banned militant organisations".

During his visits to Pakistani cities, Obaidullah "convinced several people to provide funding to support the Taliban's cause".

Obaidullah was arrested following a tip-off and taken to an unknown location, the sources said.

The militant leader was the Taliban's Defence Minister in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, when the US toppled the Taliban regime in Kabul.

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