Politics, Asia - Pacific

Pakistani Taliban’s key leader killed in Afghanistan

Qari Saifullah Mehsud shot dead by gunmen in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, says militant group

İslam Uddin   | 29.12.2019
Pakistani Taliban’s key leader killed in Afghanistan Qari Saifullah Mehsud shot dead by gunmen in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, says militant group

ISLAMABAD

A key commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the mother organization of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in Afghanistan, the group confirmed on Sunday.

Qari Saifullah Mehsud, spokesman for the Hakimullah Mehsud group, was shot dead by gunmen outside the Guloon camp in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan, the group spokesman said in an audio message.

The spokesman didn't disclose his name in the message and claimed the attack was carried out by the Haqqani network [offshoot of the Afghan Taliban] as they, day earlier, had also killed three militants of Hakimullah Mehsud group in the area.

Founded in 2007 by Baitullah Mehsud -- hailing from the powerful Mehsud tribe of the South Waziristan tribal region --, the TTP already stands divided into four groups: the Swat group, Mehsud group, Bajaur Agency group, and Darra Adamkhel group.

Qari Saifullah Mehsud, a notorious leader, was among the terrorists most wanted by Pakistani authorities for his involvement in several terror attacks in the country.

Recently Mehsud claimed in his audio message that his group carried out 75 terror attacks in 2019, mostly targeting the local elders in North and South Waziristan districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a border province of Pakistan with Afghanistan. The claim was not confirmed by local authorities.

Analysts said the killing of Mehsud is a big hit for the TTP as he was trying to unite all the split groups.

"TTP has already split in several groups and Mehsud was trying to unit them, secondly he was the most active militant and was wanted by Pakistan for several terror attacks," Saboor Khattak, a Peshawar-based senior journalist, told Anadolu Agency.

According to Khattak, Mehusd also claimed the responsibility of the tragic bus attack in Pakistan's port city of Karachi that killed nearly 45 people in 2015.

In 2016, Mehsud was arrested by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and jailed for 14 months, however, he was released later, Khattak added.

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