20 more militants killed as clashes continue in Waziristan
PESHAWAR: Twenty militants were killed in three different incidents of violence as clashes between the fighters of two rival groups of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan and North Waziristan tribal regions continued on Friday.
The clashes began last Monday after unknown people killed two militant commanders, Kasheed Mahsud and Matiur Rahman, in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan along with three other fighters.
It seems the leadership of two militant groups has decided not to forgive each other though members of the Haqqani network and the TTP Shura intervened and tried to persuade the combatants to stop the fighting.
The Taliban and tribal sources said the fighters of the two groups had spread out to different places in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to search and kill their opponents.
The fresh clashes started early in the day when a pickup truck carrying 10 fighters of commander Said Khan alias Sajna came under a rocket attack in the remote and mountainous Shawal Valley of South Waziristan.Taliban sources said all 10 militants onboard died on the spot. Beside others, two commanders of Sajna group identified as Nek Badshah and Nizam were also killed in the attack.
According to Taliban sources, the militants of Sajna group had decided not to bury their slain colleagues before avenging their killing.By Friday evening, the militants of Sajna group reportedly hit a double-cabin pickup truck, carrying the fighters of rival group headed by Commander Sheharyar, with a rocket and killed five people.
Some people said the death toll was higher but the Taliban sources confirmed the loss of five militants in the latest attack.According to source, fighting between the two major and powerful factions of the TTP had become a major cause of worry for the Taliban leadership and almost all its Shura members had suspended their activities to focus on securing a ceasefire.
“Some members of the Shura had gone two days ago and they convinced the rival factions to stop fighting but they have again started killing each other. Now almost all members of the Shura are in the conflict area to bring fighting to an end,” a senior member of the Taliban said.
Pleading anonymity, he said fighting between the two factions had damaged the ongoing peace talks with the government.“Members of the Taliban negotiations committee made several attempts to approach someone in the Shura and talk with them for an extension in the ceasefire but they couldn’t find anyone, as all of them are engaged in reconciliation efforts in Shawal and Shaktoi areas,” the Taliban commander said.
Commander Sajna belongs to the late Maulana Waliur Rahman group, who served as deputy to Hakimullah Mehsud. Both Waliur Rahman and Hakimullah Mehsud were candidates to become the TTP ameer when Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in August 2009 and their differences increased following Hakimullah Mehsud’s elevation to the position.
Taliban sources said Sajna as successor to Waliur Rahman and Sheharyar Mehsud as Hakimullah Mehsud’s successor continued to be rivals. There are reports that Sajna is in favour of peace talks with the Pakistan government while Shehryar Mehsud wanted the government to first remove his reservations before he could join the peace process.
In the third incident that took place on Friday near the Afghan border in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, five members of the Afghan Taliban movement were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED), planted by unknown people, hit their car.Three militants were initially killed and two others injured in the blast succumbed to their injuries before receiving medical help.