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Officials: Pakistan arrests key Taliban commander

– Pakistani security forces raided a militant hideout in a troubled northwestern tribal region and captured a key Taliban commander linked to a 2003 assassination attempt on former President Pervez Musharraf, officials said Wednesday.

The troops acted on a tip in the arrest of Adnan Rashid, a former air force officer-turned-militant, two intelligence officials told The Associated Press.

Rashid was seized last Friday during a raid at a home in the town of Shakai in the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Three associates of Rashid were also captured during the raid, and they were being questioning at an undisclosed location, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

Rashid was hiding at a home after fleeing from North Waziristan, where the military in June launched a much-awaited operation against militants, the officials said.

The Pakistani army has not confirmed the arrest, which marks the first major capture in the operation.

In 2003, a suicide bomber tried to ram Musharraf’s vehicle near Islamabad. Rashid was later convicted over the assassination attempt and imprisoned, but escaped during a jail break orchestrated by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012.

The officials said Rashid was also involved in several other terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

On Tuesday, the military said it had cleared the main North Waziristan town of Miran Shah of militants and also launched a ground operation in another key town of Mir Ali. An army statement said 11 militants were killed in a gunbattle in Mir Ali, as well as five soldiers.

The military says it has killed more than 450 militants so far in the North Waziristan operation, while it lost over two dozen soldiers. Over 800,000 people have fled the area before and after the start of the operation, which the military says is aimed at “eliminating terrorists and their hideouts.”

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Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report from Islamabad.

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