Sun Aug 10, 6:31 AM ET
Australian soldiers have captured a key Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan, the military said Sunday.
The Defence Department said that elite Australian troops in Uruzgan had last week taken in Mullah Bari Ghul — a man they believe is a central figure in extremist attacks in the restive province.
Defence chiefs said Bari Ghul organised money, equipment and foreign fighters for extremist operations in Uruzgan and acted as “shadow governor” authorising attacks across the region.
“Mullah Bari Ghul was directly responsible for the importation of componentry, the provision of specialists in the construction of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and authorising their emplacement across the province,” spokesman Brigadier Brian Dawson said.
“He was also ultimately responsible for the July 13 suicide bomber attack in the Deh Rawood bazaar that killed 21 Afghans and injured a further 12.”
Dawson said the capture of Bari Ghul, who was also involved in coordinating the actions of individual insurgency cells, would likely have an immediate impact on militant activity in the region.
“The loss of the one person who knew what was currently underway, what was planned for the future and had the contacts to gain further support is a significant blow to the Taliban extremists’ command and control in the province,” he said in a statement.
“Extremist cells in Afghanistan operate in small isolated groups and only a few key individuals have any sense of the overall provincial insurgency plan.”
No details about the capture were revealed. Bari Ghul is being held in a Dutch detention facility in Tarin Kwot, Uruzgan.
Australia has about 1,000 troops based in Uruzgan province, most of whom are assisting a Dutch-led reconstruction operation in Uruzgan, a former Taliban stronghold.
Australia has deployed troops to Afghanistan for much of the time since the Taliban government was ousted in a US-led invasion for harbouring Al-Qaeda leaders after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.