US forces capture Pakistani Taliban commander

US forces capture Pakistani Taliban commander

United States military forces have captured Latif Mehsud, a senior commander with the Pakistani Taliban, the US State Department has said but it declined comment on when it happened.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Friday that US forces had apprehended Mehsud, whom she described as a senior commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The Pentagon said Mehsud was captured in a US military operation in Afghanistan, but the Washington Post newspaper reported on Friday that he was forcibly snatched from an Afghan government convoy in Logar province several weeks ago as Afghan officials were trying to recruit him to launch peace talks.

The Pakistani Taliban confirmed the capture, but said Mehsud was seized by the Afghan army at the Ghulam Khan border crossing in the eastern province of Khost on October 5.

Blow to relations

Larry Korb, former US Assistant Secretary of Defence and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, told Al Jazeera from Washington DC that the capture would not help Afghan-US relations.

"President Karzai wanted to use this Taliban commander to help with negotiations," he said. "So this does not help at all... the relationship with Karzai is very personal, and I hope that John Kerry can establish a relationship with him."

"In my experience, [Karzai] was very happy with George Bush because Bush spent a lot of time talking to him, whereas while Obama has given him a lot of troops, he hasn't been spending time talking to him."

Korb went on to say there is now a preference for capturing people alive, in an effort to avoid killing civilians.

"I think the US would like to capture people alive so they can interrogate them," he said. "Capturing them alive means avoiding civilian casualties."

President Obama focused on targeted strikes and increased the use of drones, Korb explained, "but with the amount of casualties, he's pulled back, and is now using special forces, and capturing [suspects] alive so they can be interrogated."

Mehsud is a deputy to Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

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