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Lion of Herat now in custody of Afghan Taliban

Known as the Lion of Herat, Khan battled Soviet occupiers in the 1980s and was a key member of the Northern Alliance whose US-backed forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Taliban insurgents detained today veteran militia commander Mohammad Ismail Khan, popularly known as Lion of Herat, after they seized the western city of Herat, a provincial council member said. The insurgents also captured three more provincial capitals as they press a lightning offensive that is gradually encircling the capital, Kabul.

Khan, who has been leading fighters against the Taliban in recent weeks, was handed over to the insurgents along with the provincial governor and security officials under a pact, provincial council member said.

“The Taliban agreed that they will not pose any threat or harm to the government officials who surrendered,” Hashimi said.

Khan is one of Afghanistan’s most prominent warlords. Known as the Lion of Herat, he battled Soviet occupiers in the 1980s and was a key member of the Northern Alliance whose US-backed forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that Khan had been detained.

Taliban Capture 17 Provincial Capitals

The Taliban have caprtured more capital cities today such as Terenkot, Pul-e Alam, Feruz Koh, Qala-e Naw and Lashkar Gah within hours after capturing Herat and Kandahar cities. So far, the Taliban have got control over 17 provincial capitals across Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is tipping towards civil war and the West must understand that the Taliban is not a single entity but a title for a myriad of competing interests, the United Kingdom’s defence minister says.

“Britain found that out in the 1830s, that it is a country led by warlords and led by different provinces and tribes, and you end up, if you’re not very careful in a civil war, and I think we are heading towards a civil war,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“The Taliban is not entirely a single entity, they break down underneath the title into all sorts of different interests,” Wallace said.

Military and government officials had evacuated the city after striking a deal with the Taliban, according to the security officials.

In Qatar, international envoys to Afghan negotiations have called for an accelerated peace process as a “matter of great urgency” and for an immediate halt to attacks on cities.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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