-- Afghan authorities have arrested the leader of a gang accused of killing four journalists in 2001, officials said Sunday.

The suspect, identified as Zar Jan, was arrested after a shootout with police Saturday night in an area 30 miles east of Kabul, the capital, an official said.

The four journalists were killed on Nov. 19, 2001, at Tangi Abrishum, about 55 miles east of Kabul. Two of the journalists -- Harry Burton, an Australian television cameraman, and Azizullah Haidari, an Afghan photographer -- worked for Reuters. The other two were a Spaniard, Julio Fuentes of El Mundo newspaper, and an Italian, Maria Grazia Cutuli of Corriere della Sera. They were all stopped by a gang of about 12 gunmen while trying to reach Kabul days after the defeated Taliban had withdrawn from the city.

They were shot and killed shortly afterward.

Authorities have in the past said they had arrested several suspected accomplices of Jan. One of them, Reza Khan, 29, was sentenced to death last November. He said his gang had been acting on the orders of a Taliban commander.

In a confession broadcast on state television in August last year, Khan admitted killing one of the journalists and identified the leader of his gang as Jan.

Jan, who was also wanted on suspicion of armed robbery, kidnapping and other killings, was arrested with four of his gang members, said Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal.

Meanwhile, a Defense Ministry official said Afghan forces had arrested a senior Taliban commander accused of leading attacks against Afghan and U.S.-led troops based in the western part of the country.

Haji Sultan, a division commander for the Taliban, was arrested with Mohammad Rahim, another senior Taliban official, in the western province of Farah on Saturday, said Zahir Azimy, the spokesman.

"Haji Sultan was on the U.S. military blacklist 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 Thursday.

Maria Grazia Cutuli, an Italian newspaper reporter.Julio Fuentes of Spain's El Mundo newspaper. Azizullah Haidari, an Afghan photographer. Harry Burton, an Australian cameraman for Reuters.