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Taliban commander killed in Pakistan

AFP , Thursday 23 Dec 2010
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Pakistani security officials said Thursday that a Taliban militant commander had been killed in a gunfight with government troops in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

"Asmatullah Bhetani was killed in a gunfight with security forces in South Waziristan on the night between December 7 and 8," a senior security official said on condition of anonymity.

Another official confirmed Bhetani's death, saying there had been a reward of 10 million rupees (120,000 dollars) for his arrest.

He was killed in Sararogha, a militant stronghold in South Waziristan, where Pakistan carried out a major offensive to crush the Taliban's headquarters last year, the official said.

Bhetani was educated at a madrassa in the north-western town of Dera Ismail Khan, before opening a seminary himself and teaching, the official said.

"He was an important militant commander," the official said.

Bhetani was arrested twice in 2006, but released after negotiations with tribal elders.

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