Pakistan security forces have arrested 2 key Pakistani Taliban commanders, an official says

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Security forces in Pakistan have arrested two key commanders of the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s volatile southwest, an official said Wednesday.

The interior minister of Baluchistan province, Ziaullah Langau, congratulated the security forces for “saving the country from possible high-profile attacks” by arresting the militants, whom he identified as Commander Nasrullah and Commander Idress.

He said the arrests, seen as a significant boost for Pakistan’s government, were part of a “sophisticated intelligence-based operation.” The government announced this week the launch of a nationwide crackdown on insurgents.

The arrests came during a surge in attacks by the Pakistani Taliban, who are a separate group but are allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

At a news conference in Quetta, Langau released a video statement by Nasrullah in which he said he had been part of the Pakistani Taliban for 16 years, including several years which he spent in Afghanistan to escape Pakistani military operations. He alleged that the group as well as Baluch separatists received support from Afghanistan’s Taliban government.

In March, five Chinese engineers were killed when a suicide bomber targeted their vehicle in the northwest. Pakistan has said the attack was planned in Afghanistan and the bomber was an Afghan citizen. Afghanistan’s government and Pakistani militants have denied the allegations.

Baluch insurgents have also targeted Chinese in Baluchistan, which has been the scene of low-level insurgency by nationalists for more than two decades. They initially wanted a bigger share of provincial resources but are now seeking independence. The Pakistani Taliban and other domestic militant groups also operate in the province.

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