KABUL – Afghan officials on Friday said the US military was holding a senior Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan commander captured in Afghanistan a week ago. Latif Mehsud was arrested by American forces as he was driving along a main highway, Arsallah Jamal, the governor of eastern Logar province, said on Friday.
Mehsud, a former bodyguard and close confidante of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud, was reported to have been elevated to the position of deputy ameer in the proscribed militant group. A report published last month said he was also appointed the commander of the TTP in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. The TTP confirmed Latif had been captured by the Afghan army at the Ghulam Khan border crossing in the eastern province of Khost on October 5.
TTP commanders and intelligence officials said he was captured by the Afghan army as he attended a meeting to discuss swapping Afghan prisoners for money. TTP commander ‘snatched’ by US forces” According to a report published by the Washington Post on Friday,
Afghan officials blamed the US military of ‘snatching’ the senior TTP commander from the custody of Afghan intelligence operatives who had spent months trying to recruit him as an interlocutor for peace talks. The report said Afghan officials had spent months to establish contact with Mehsud in a bid to facilitate peace talks.
The Taliban leader had finally agreed to meet with Afghan intelligence operatives, said Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who declined to identify Mehsud by name, referring to him only as a top Taliban commander.
“The Americans forcibly removed him and took him to Bagram,” the report quoted Faizi as saying. The ‘capture’ comes as an end of October deadline looms for completing a security deal that would allow American troops to remain in Afghanistan after the end of the NATO-led military mission next year. On Friday,
US Secretary of State John Kerry also arrived in Afghanistan in an apparent effort to try to advance the troubled negotiations with the Afghan side.
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