KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan authorities on Monday confirmed the arrest of a senior Taliban (search) commander who was allegedly planning terror attacks in the south of the country.
Mullah Janan was arrested in the southern city of Kandahar (search) on Saturday, said Han Mohammed, a military division commander in the city.
Janan was taken into custody with four other men accused of plotting to explode a bomb in a populated part of Kandahar near an unspecified government facility.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Abdullah described Janan as "one of the notorious links of Al Qaeda among the Taliban." Like many Afghans, Abdullah uses only one name.
Mohammed said Janan served as a Taliban commander in the northern provinces of Badghis and Faryab. Before that, he also was a commander loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister now waging an insurgency against the government.
Usama bin Laden's (search) Al Qaeda network has been blamed for a string of terrorist attacks around the globe, including the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. Before the Taliban were overthrown in a 2001 war by Afghan opposition forces backed by U.S. air power, Al Qaeda had bases and training facilities in Afghanistan.
The five arrests came as the United States announced that command of its forces in Afghanistan would be handed over to the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division on Tuesday. No reason was given for the change.
About 11,500 coalition troops, 8,500 of them Americans, are in Afghanistan hunting down remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and their allies.
On Sunday, unidentified attackers fired a 107mm rocket toward a U.S. base in the eastern town of Gardez, but no damage or injuries were reported, the U.S. military said in a statement Monday.
Rebels have been firing such rockets at coalition bases in the south and east for more than a year, but the rockets, often leaned against rocks and connected to crude water timers, are difficult to aim and rarely hit their mark.