Police in northwestern Pakistan say they have detained a key militant commander who is accused in the 2012 killing of a reporter for Voice of America's Deewa Radio.
Deputy Inspector General of the Mardan region, Mohammad Saeed Wazir, told VOA Deewa Radio that police arrested Pakistani Taliban commander Irfan Khurasani and two of his associates at a checkpoint near the town of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, after getting tipped off. Authorities also seized at least 100 kilograms of explosives from their vehicle.
Wazir said Khurasani, who went by Amanullah, was wanted in connection with a number of incidents, including extortion and attacks on schools, security forces and the killing of journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif.
Aatif, a reporter for Deewa Radio, was gunned down on January 17, 2012, during evening prayers at a local mosque near his home in the town of Shabqadar. He had faced repeated threats from militants, and the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.
Aatif's nephew and VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand was with Aatif at the mosque when he was shot. Muhmand told VOA that his uncle was killed because he worked for Voice of America. Aatif had been working for VOA since 2006.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
Muhmand said he and other reporters in Pakistan's northwest continue to face threats from the Taliban. Local groups are urging journalists to be extra cautious following the December 16 massacre at a school in the city of Peshawar that left nearly 150 students and teachers dead.