Sweeps Lead to Arrests of 16 Taliban in Southern Afghanistan

Sixteen Taliban (search) have been arrested in southern Afghanistan in a sweep by 1,000 Afghan fighters and more than 300 U.S.-led coalition troops hunting for leaders of the former regime, a local commander said Thursday.

Tanks and helicopters from the anti-terror coalition are also deployed in the search in the districts of Dai Chopan (search), Atghar, Shinkay and Arghandab, said Commander Habibullah Jan (search). There were no known casualties on either side, he said.

The operation began six days ago, Jan said.

Along with the captives, 14 Kalashnikovs, six rifles and two rockets were seized. The 16 captives were being held in Kandahar (search) prison, he said.

Local officials have claimed that the same operation over the weekend also netted a senior Taliban commander, Mullah Janan, along with eight of his accomplices. However, the U.S. military has said Janan was captured near Deh Rawod in the central province of Uruzgan.

"We are trying to capture other big Taliban figures," Jan said of the continuing operations.

In recent weeks, Taliban insurgents are believed to have stepped up attacks against government troops, aid workers and U.S.-led coalition forces, mainly in southern and eastern Afghanistan.