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Taliban leader surrenders

THE Taliban has been dealt a crippling blow after their leader in Helmand province surrendered – fearing the SBS were about to kill him next.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/article1456318.ece

By TOM NEWTON DUNN
Defence Editor

Published: 22 Jul 2008

Mullah Abdul Rahim handed himself in to Pakistani police over the border from Afghanistan late on Saturday evening, The Sun has exclusively learned.

One of Top Five most wanted Taliban bosses, Rahim gave himself up after two of his senior henchmen were killed within two weeks by the elite Navy special forces unit.

Rahim answered directly to one-eyed Taliban boss Mullah Omar.

He was taken into custody in the Pakistani city of Quetta, where senior Taliban leadership are in hiding, intelligence sources revealed.

British commanders last night dubbed Rahim’s surrender as a massive breakthrough that would plunge militant force in Helmand into disarray.


Blow

British forces spokesman in Helmand Lt Col Robin Matthews said: “The Taliban’s senior leadership structure has suffered a shattering blow.

“They remain a dangerous enemy but they increasingly lack strategic direction and their proposition to the Afghan people is proving ultimately negative and self-defeating.

Helmand governor Gulab Mangal last night appealed to all remaining Taliban fighters in the province to lay down their arms.

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He said: “This is a great message for Helmand province. I advise all those Taliban who are engaging with terrorist actions that the fighting has no benefit. So this is the time to join with the Islamic Republic and choose a good, right and honourable way”.

As The Sun also revealed, Rahim’s deputy for northern Helmand Mullah Bishmullah was shot dead by SBS commandos on July 13.

And expert bomb-maker Mullah Sadiqullah was assassinated by a Hellfire missile fired into his 4x4 by an Apache gunship helicopter on June 26.

A few hours after Rahim surrendered, British forces claimed their third senior scalp in Helmand.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Taliban commander for the northern Musa Qalah area, Mullah Sheikh, was killed in a Hellfire missile strike fired from an unmanned Reaper drone flown by the RAF.

Sheikh was attacked and killed by three henchmen as they walked in fields 15km north of Musa Qalah.

In February last year, Mullah Rahim boasted that the insurgency had 10,000 fighters ready to launch a fierce offensive in the spring "as the weather becomes warm and leaves turn green."

It was thought he had been killed in an air strike last July in northern Helmand, but he narrowly escaped.

Mullar Omar appointed Rahim as the shadow governor of Helmand province.