At least 13 Pakistan militants die in fresh infighting

Mehsud, a ruthless commander who has led the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the last three years, is seen in the foreground in this aerial view over Makeen, about 50 km north of Wana Nov. 29, 2012. (File photo: Reuters)

At least 13 militants were killed in a bombing and a gunfight in Pakistan's restive tribal areas Friday, the latest clashes in almost a week of infighting between rival Taliban factions.

A total of 56 people have been killed in the violence which erupted on Sunday between supporters of commander Khan Said Sajna and followers of the late Hakimullah Mehsud group in troubled North Waziristan.

Both factions are part of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella group, which has been waging a bloody seven-year insurgency against the state.

Ten insurgents were killed in clashes that began when members of the Sajna group came under rocket attack in their car in the town of Shawal, a local intelligence official told AFP.

Militant sources confirmed the clash and casualties.

Long riven

The feud began after Sajna, a senior commander, was rejected for the TTP leadership following the killing of then-leader Mehsud last November, militants say.

The TTP has long been riven by infighting.

Sajna had been seen as a strong candidate to become TTP chief following Mehsud's death.

But the movement's ruling council at the last minute elected Mullah Fazlullah, who hails from Swat and is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.

Separately, Sher Amanullah, a commander of the Haqqani militant network, was killed along with two others when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle near the town of Datta Khel, intelligence and militant sources said.

Amanullah is said to be a close associate of Mullah Sangeen Zadran, who was blacklisted as a terrorist by the United Nations and United States and was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan in September last year.

The Pakistani government began negotiations through intermediaries with the TTP in February to try to end its insurgency.

The militant group has demanded the release of what they call “non-combatant” prisoners and the establishment of a “peace zone” from which security forces would be barred.

A bomb attack at a market in Islamabad on Wednesday killed 24 people, though the TTP denied responsibility.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41