Taleban official behind attack on Kiwis captured

Last updated 09:18 24/09/2012
The New Zealand soldiers killed by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan.
The New Zealand soldiers killed by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan.

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A "senior Taleban weapons dealer" believed to be connected to last month's attack in which two New Zealand soldiers were killed has been captured in Afghanistan.

Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the United States-led coalition in the country, said the operation that led to the arrest followed a big surveillance effort.

"There was a lot of surveillance of organisations, Taleban enemy organisations, insurgent organisations in that area following the attacks, in part because Bamiyan had been so quiet for so long and these attacks were just so out of the ordinary," Wojack told Radio New Zealand.

Lance corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer died and six other New Zealanders were injured during the attack in northeast Bamiyan province on August 4. Two members of the Afghan special police and 11 others were also injured.

Three more New Zealand soldiers died in another attack two weeks later.

Durrer's grandfather said the capture of the Taleban official came as a "relief" for the family.

Jack Durrer, who raised Durrer, along with his uncle, Joe Durrer, and aunt, Ani Lhamo, after the sudden death of his mother in 1998, said the news was a "surprise".

"I knew they were looking for him. It was a relief to hear. It's good they found someone that was behind it, but he's not the only one. He can't have done everything by himself," he said.

He said the announcement would also provide some relief for New Zealand troops in Afghanistan.

The official's capture meant there was one less bombmaker and "one less danger" for the Kiwi troops, he said.

Durrer said he was not "seeking blood for blood", simply justice for his grandson's death through the Afghan courts.

Lhamo said she did not believe in finding those responsible for the deaths and holding them accountable.

"It's not necessary personally in my mind. I don't believe in seeking revenge. We're happy to walk away. We don't want the warfare," she said.

She felt New Zealand troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan.

Lhamo also had doubts the person caught was behind the attack.

"We don't really know. I doubt that person is the real person," she said.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand troops were not involved in the arrest.

It was "good news" that the arrest had happened, he said.

Wojack said so far it had been possible to connect the Taleban leader only with the August 4 attack.

Once more analysis was done it would be known if the official detained and the organisation involved were behind the later attack.

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The insurgent arrested would be turned over to Afghan authorities and would go through the Afghan justice system.

Evidence confiscated when he was detained would be used in a criminal court, Wojack said.

The detention of the Taleban leader, as was the case any time such a person was caught, meant there was the potential for learning more about the network he was part of, Wojack said.

"That's a real key clue into unlocking whatever's going on in Bamiyan."

He did not know whether four Special Air Service logistics officers, sent to Afghanistan to gather intelligence after the August attacks, had been involved in tracking down the arrested Taleban official.

- Stuff

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