Pakistan Taliban leader dies in jail

 

Pakistan's army says a Taliban commander known for beheading opponents has died in custody from wounds sustained during his capture last week.

The army media center says Sher Muhammad Qasab died in custody today. Qasab's three sons were killed in the gunbattle with security forces in the Swat Valley when he was arrested.

Qasab is an Urdu-language word meaning "butcher." He was given the title because of his ruthlessness toward enemies. He had a $121,000 bounty on his head.

The arrest was the third from the army's list of the 10 most-wanted Swat militants.

The Pakistan Taliban has been on the run after being cleared from the scenic valley and surrounding areas in July. Their leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in an Aug. 5 CIA missile strike.

Ten militants were killed by security forces during the gunbattle on Thursday as they tried to sneak into the region's main city of Mingora, Abbas said.

The army announced Friday the capture of five other Swat Taliban commanders, including spokesman Muslim Khan and commander Mahmood Khan. The arrests were the first time the army had captured any senior commanders in the offensive.

The Swat offensive has been praised by the United States, which wants to see Pakistan fighting militants hiding out in its rugged northwest who are blamed for plotting and carrying out attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

AP