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US forces capture a top Pakistani Taliban leader

KABUL — The United States confirmed on Friday that American troops are holding a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, a blow to the Pakistani Taliban who have waged a decadelong insurgency against Islamabad and were responsible for the failed 2010 attempt to detonate a bomb in New York’s Times Square.

Latif Mehsud, a leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, was captured by US forces in a military operation, Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman for the US State Department, said in Washington.

‘‘Mehsud is a senior commander in TTP, and served as a trusted confidant of the group’s leader, Hakimullah Mehsud,’’ Harf said. ‘‘TTP claimed responsibility, as folks probably know, for the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2010 and has vowed to attack the US homeland again. TTP is also responsible for attacking our diplomats in Pakistan and attacks that have killed countless Pakistani civilians.’’


Harf said she did not have any details of how, when, or where Mehsud was captured.

Arsallah Jamal, governor of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan, said Mehsud was captured a week ago as he was driving along a main highway in Mohammad Agha district. The road links the province with the Afghan capital, Kabul. Jamal said Mehsud was in a car with two or three other men when the US military arrested him.

The Pakistani Taliban confirmed the capture but claimed Mehsud was seized Oct. 5 by the Afghan Army at the Ghulam Khan border crossing in the eastern province of Khost.

A US defense official said Mehsud was being lawfully held by US military forces in Afghanistan. A senior US official said the arrest did not please Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, who apparently saw it as a violation of Afghan sovereignty.

The detention may have contributed to a series of emotional outbursts this week by Karzai, who alleged that the United States and NATO have inflicted suffering on the Afghan people and repeatedly have violated its sovereignty.