Top Pakistan Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Published: Sep 25, 2016, 04:27 PM(IST)

Azam Tariq was gunned down by Afghan forces after his group moved to Afghanistan following military operations in the tribal belt of Waziristan Photograph:( Getty )

A top Pakistan Taliban commander was killed by Afghan security forces on Sunday.

Azam Tariq, whose real name is Raees Khan, was a former spokesperson and senior leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

He was currently working with Khan Sayed's Mehsud Taliban faction as a spokesperson.

Tariq's son was also among those dead, The Express Tribune reported.

"I confirm the killing of Azam Tariq along with at least 10 other Pakistani Taliban in Paktika province (which is close to North and South Waziristan)," a senior commander loyal to Tariq told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

Tariq's death is likely to further weaken Pakistan Taliban which has been wracked by infighting since Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a drone strike in November 2013.

After his death, the group was splintered into two: one led by Khan Sayed and the other by chief Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah.

Tariq, a close aide to Mehsud, decided to side with Sayed who is viewed by security analysts as the most powerful Taliban commander.

Mehsud was also viewed by Pakistan as the more moderate Talibani as he endorsed engagement with the federal government in Pakistan, a view reportedly shunned by Fazlullah.

Mehsud, who is also known as Sajna, mainly operates in North and South Waziristan. But reports suggest the group had crossed over to Afghanistan following military operations in the tribal belt of Waziristan. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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