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Taliban official gives himself up

A senior Taliban leader surrendered to Pakistani authorities, and another insurgent commander was killed by a British airstrike in southern Afghanistan, British officials said Tuesday.

A suicide bomber blew himself up earlier in the day in the Afghan capital, injuring three civilians, while clashes in the country's west prompted U.S.-led forces to use airstrikes on Taliban militants, officials said.

Lt. Col. Robin Matthews, a spokesman at the British Defense Ministry in London, said Mullah Rahim, the most senior Taliban leader in Afghanistan's Helmand province, gave himself up to Pakistani officials Saturday. He gave no details, and there was no immediate confirmation from Pakistan.

Matthews also said a precision missile strike by British aircraft just after midnight Sunday killed Abdul Rasaq, a Taliban leader who led fighters in the Musa Qala area of Helmand province.

Rasaq was the third senior Taliban leader killed by the British in recent months. The ministry said Bishmullah, a key strategist for the Taliban, was killed July 12 and another planner and bomb-maker, Sadiqullah, was killed in late June.

Helmand's governor, Mangal, said the slaying of Rasaq was good news for his province.

“I advise all those Taliban who are engaging with terrorist actions that the fighting has no benefits,” he said in a speech at the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, according to the British statement.

The British spokesman said the recent killings of top leaders was a blow to the insurgency, but cautioned that Taliban fighters are still a threat.

“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,” Matthews said.

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