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U.S., Pakistan confirm capture of Afghan Taliban's deputy commander

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By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 18, 2010

KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- The U.S. and Pakistani governments publicly confirmed Wednesday that they had captured the deputy commander of the Afghan Taliban in a recent raid, a development viewed in the region as a setback to the insurgency and as evidence of growing collaboration between Washington and Islamabad.

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Pakistani authorities arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar -- the No. 2 leader in the Taliban after Mohammad Omar -- during the past week in an operation conducted jointly with the CIA, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a spokesman for Pakistan's army.

In Washington, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Baradar's capture "is a big success for our mutual efforts in the region."

Neither the Pakistanis nor the Americans have divulged exactly when Baradar was arrested or where he is being held.

Pakistan is battling a domestic Taliban uprising but until recently had been unwilling to confront Afghan Taliban forces based on its soil or even acknowledge that its top leaders are present in the country. It has also been reluctant to be associated with the United States' war efforts or with U.S. agencies such as the CIA, viewed by the Pakistani public with extreme scorn.

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