ISLAMABAD: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan former spokesman Azam Tariq was among four Taliban leaders killed in an operation conducted by Afghan security forces in Paktika province early Sunday.
While confirming Tariq’s death, the TTP said that his son was also among those killed in the operation. His death was also confirmed by security sources in the tribal region.
The slain TTP leader, whose real name was Raees Khan, had earlier served as the spokesperson for the banned TTP. He was currently working as spokesperson of the Mehsud Taliban faction led by Khan Sayed ‘Sajna’.
According to sources, most members of the Sajna group live in Paktika province. They apparently crossed into Afghanistan after fleeing military operations in the Waziristan tribal regions.
In June this year, the brother and uncle of Hakimullah Mehsud surrendered to the authorities in the Kurram Agency after returning from the Afghan province.
Tribal sources earlier told that the Hakimullah splinter group was instrumental in the handing over of family members of the slain leader “under an arrangement” with the authorities.
The Hakimullah group neither parted ways with Maulvi Fazlullah’s TTP nor did the latter disown it.
A senior leader of the group, Janat Khan alias Zabal, was the main character behind the campaign to encourage Mehsuds’ return home. Zabal was killed along with his guard in Paktika in April this year. He played a key role in persuading many Mehsud militants to return to a peaceful life, a source familiar with the initiative said.
A serious rift over leadership broke out within the ranks of the Taliban following the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in November 2013. Taliban sources say as many as 200 fighters had been killed in clashes between supporters of rival factions led by Sheharyar Mehsud and Khan Said ‘Sajna’, respectively.