Pakistan confirms arrest of Taliban leader

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A Pakistan military chief confirmed today that the Afghan Taliban's number two leader has been arrested.

Major General Athar Abbas's statement was the first official confirmation that Mullah Baradar is in Pakistani custody.

Pakistani and US officials said yesterday that Baradar was arrested this month in the southern city of Karachi in what is being interpreted as a major blow to the militant movement in Afghanistan and a boost to US efforts in the war there.

Maj Gen Abbas said in a message sent to reporters that "detailed identification procedures" had been completed and that Baradar was among several people arrested recently.

He did not give any other details of the arrest, citing security reasons.

Baradar was the second in command behind Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and was said to be in charge of the day-to-day running of the organisation's leadership council, which is believed based in Pakistan.

He was a founding member of the Taliban and is the most important figure of the hardline Islamist movement to be arrested in the war.