Blast kills another Pakistani Taliban leader in Afghanistan
February 13, 2020 07:23 PM
A senior Pakistani Taliban commander was killed by a bomb in eastern Afghanistan, militant and intelligence sources told AFP Thursday, the latest such incident to target the group in recent days.
Sheharyar Mehsud, chief of a militant faction which is part of the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistani Taliban), was the target of the remote-controlled blast in Kunar province, a TTP commander in Pakistan told AFP.
A Pakistani intelligence official who confirmed the incident said Mehsud had fled to Afghanistan in 2016. The blast comes nearly two weeks after two other key TTP leaders -- Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saifullah Peshawari -- were killed in a clash with security forces. It was not immediately clear who was behind the killings.
They have come as the US and the Afghan Taliban -- which is separate from the TTP -- appear close to a breakthrough on a deal for an American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Islamabad has helped to facilitate the gruelling talks, which have stretched over more than a year.
Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for over a decade, with thousands of civilians and security personnel dying in extremist attacks, especially after the TTP began their campaign of violence in 2007.
But overall levels of extremist-linked violence have dropped dramatically in recent years, with 2019 seeing the fewest deaths since 2007 -- the year the TTP was formed.