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London applauds capture of Haqqani leader

LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The reported capture in Afghanistan of a senior commander in the militant Haqqani network is a "major blow" to the terrorist group, a British official said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan announced during the weekend that Haqqani commander Haji Mali Khan was captured in a joint raid with Afghan forces.

He was identified as a senior figure in the militant network and a close aide to Baitullah Mahsud, a top Taliban commander killed by a U.S. airstrike in August 2009.

British Middle East and North African Minister Alistair Burt, in a statement, said the capture of Mali Khan was a decisive blow to the Haqqani network.

"As a senior commander within the Haqqani network, his removal from the battlefield will deal a major blow to one of the most dangerous terrorist networks operating in Afghanistan," he said.

U.S. allegations the Pakistani intelligence agency has ties to the Haqqani network, blamed for a series of attacks in Afghanistan, have hurt the relationship between the two allies.

London, nevertheless, maintained it was an unshaken partner both with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mali Khan was captured in Paktia province just west of the Afghan border with Pakistan. ISAF said he was captured without incident, despite being heavily armed.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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