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Evading arrest, Pak Taliban leader blows himself up

July 24, 2007 17:29 IST

Top Pakistani Taliban commander and former Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdullah Mehsud on Tuesday blew himself up to avoid arrest by Pakistan military during a raid in Balochistan along the Afghanistan border.

Mehsud led the local Taliban militia in south Waziristan following his release by Pakistan in March 2004, soon after the US sent him back from the detention centre for terror suspects.

He was among the most wanted militant leaders in Pakistan especially for his involvement in the abduction and killing of two Chinese engineers in 2004.

Mehsud blew himself up with a hand grenade when troops surrounded his hideout around 0830 hrs at Zhob, 300 km north of Balochistan provincial capital Quetta.

Two of his brothers and an aide also stated to be a Pak-Taliban commander were taken into custody during the raid which took place after security agencies were tipped off.

Mehsud had apparently come to visit a Taliban sympathiser Sheikh Ayub Muthakhel, a top leader of the Jamat Ulema Islam, headed by Fazlur Rehman, the secretary general of the Islamist Alliance Muthahida Majlis Amal.

The 32-year-old one-legged Taliban leader was also believed to be behind the recent attacks against Chinese in Peshawar and Hub town in Balochistan.

The success for Pakistani military came after a verbal spat between Washington and Islamabad over warnings of direct military strikes by the US in militants bases in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Mesud was captured while fighting along with the Taliban in 2003 and was detained in Guantanamo.

K J M Varma in Islamabad