Australian troops capture Taliban leader

A Taliban insurgent commander, the suspected mastermind of bomb attacks which wounded four Australian soldiers in March, has been captured in Afghanistan.

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Australian troops and members of the Afghan Provincial Police Reserve detained insurgent leader Mullah Faqir and four others during a joint operation on April 12.

Australian Middle East commander Major General John Cantwell said his arrest was a significant blow to the Taliban’s ability to plan and coordinate attacks against NATO-led coalition forces.

Mullah Faqir was a key tactical commander for the insurgency as it attempted to reconstitute itself in Oruzgan at the beginning of the traditional summer fighting season, General Cantwell said.

He was known to coalition forces in Afghanistan for a number of years.

IED attack mastermind

“He commanded a significant number of insurgent fighters and coordinated the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices as well as directing attacks against security forces in the region,” General Cantwell said.

Mullah Faqir is believed to have been behind a series of separate IED attacks which wounded the four Australian and three Afghan soldiers in late March.

Mullah Faqir was handed over to Dutch Forces and then transferred to Afghan security services once his identity was confirmed.

He will now be processed within the Afghan justice system.

Three of the other four men detained with him were also transferred to Afghan authorities for prosecution. The fourth was released.

The capture of Mullah Faqir follows other recent successes by the Australian Special Operations Task Group.

Last month it and Afghan police captured key insurgent Mullah Janan Andewhal and a number of others involved in the construction and placement of IEDs.

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