Afghanistan: Pakistani Taliban ‘main leader’ killed in blast

Afghanistan: Pakistani Taliban ‘main leader’ killed in blast

A “main leader” of the Pakistani Taliban was killed when his car exploded in eastern Afghanistan. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said an announcement would be made soon regarding “the martyrdom of a senior leader” of the movement. A source inside the TTP said it was Abdul Wali, a commander using the alias Omar Khalid Khorasani.

His death could jeopardize a fragile ceasefire reached in June between the TTP and the Pakistani government as Afghan Taliban-brokered peace talks advanced.

Four Pakistan Army soldiers killed

The Pakistan Army said on Tuesday that four soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a military convoy in North Waziristan, where the TTP has a strong presence, on the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban of the TTP are a different group from the Afghan Taliban, but are driven by the same ideology and a long shared history.

According to the TTP source, who asked not to be identified, Abdul Wali and two other commanders were killed when their car was “attacked” in Paktika province on the Waziristan border in eastern Afghanistan. “When we got to his vehicle, it was on fire, but the nature of the explosion is not yet clear,” the source said, adding that Abdul Wali was returning from a meeting with TTP head Noor Wali Mehsud.

Abdul Wali, the origin of a more militant faction of the TTP

Commander Abdul Wali has been a thorn in the side of Pakistani authorities for more than a decade. In 2014 he formed a separate and more militant TTP faction known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for some of the country’s deadliest attacks, including a suicide bombing in Lahore on Easter Sunday 2016 that killed 75 people.

Two years ago he announced a merger with the TTP, which last June declared an “indefinite ceasefire” with Islamabad after the start of the Afghan Taliban-brokered peace talks in Kabul. These peace talks angered many Pakistanis, who remember the TTP’s brutal attacks on schools, hotels, churches and markets, among other places.

Since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in Kabul a year ago, Islamabad has increasingly lamented TTP attacks, particularly along the porous border with Afghanistan. The new regime in Kabul has always maintained that it will not allow militant groups to use Afghan soil to attack its neighbors.