KABUL (Reuters)-Afghan forces have arrested a senior Taliban commander accused of leading attacks against Afghan and U.S.-led troops based in the west of the country, a defense ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Haji Sultan, a division commander for the Taliban, was arrested with Mullah Mohammad Rahim, another senior Taliban official, in the western province of Farah on Saturday, said the spokesman, Zahir Azimy.
"Haji Sultan was on the U.S. military black list and we handed him over to them for investigation," Azimy said.
The U.S. military confirmed Sultan”s arrest, describing him as a bomb maker, but said he was seized on Thursday.
A Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah, said by telephone from an undisclosed location Sultan had not been arrested.
Asked if Sultan”s arrest might help lead authorities to the fugitive Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, Azimy said investigations would try to determine that.
U.S. and Afghan forces as well as authorities in neighboring Pakistan have arrested hundreds of suspected Taliban and their al Qaeda allies since the Taliban were ousted from power in late 2001 by U.S.-led forces.
Taliban guerrillas and their Islamic allies have been involved in bloody violence that has gripped parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan near the rugged region with Pakistan in recent months.
U.S.-led troops toppled the hardline Taliban government after it refused to hand over al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Bin Laden, like Omar, remains at large.