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US drone strike kills TTP commander
February 10, 2018
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DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A key Pakistan Taliban commander has been killed in a US drone strike close to the Afghan border in North Waziristan Agency, a media report said on Friday.

The deputy chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Khan Saeed Mehsud alias Khalid Sajna, was killed in the Thursday night drone strike along with three others, the Express Tribune reported.

Sajna was also heading the Mehsud faction of the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwestern Waziristan Agency. The TTP confirmed his killing and the appointment of Maulvi Khatir as his successor.

The Express Tribune report said that the other three casualties were Sajna’s nephew Ismail and two guards.

Sajna’s vehicle was targeted in Margha area of Barmal district in Afghanistan’s Paktika province bordering North Waziristan, reports said.

“The vehicle was completed destroyed,” an intelligence official told the daily, adding that there were at least three reported drone strikes on the Pakistan-Afghan border in the last 24 hours.

He is the third Pakistan Taliban commander killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan during the last six months.

Earlier on Friday, missile fried from US drone slammed into a Pakistani border village Gorwak in North Waziristan, killing seven militants, said officials. The apparent target of the strike was Haqqani network’s local commander, Qudrat Ullah, but it was unclear if he was among those killed when the drone’s missiles struck the compound, two officials said. Sajna was put on the US “Designated Terrorist” list in October 2014 and was considered a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud and senior TTP commander Wali Rehman.

He became TTP’s deputy leader following the death of Wali Rehman in May 2013.

Sajna was wanted by the authorities in Pakistan in several cases including suicide attacks on security forces and a 2012 Bannu jailbreak in which 384 prisoners fled. Pakistan opposes US drone strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty.

Confirmation of the strikes came shortly before Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai arrived in Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials.

Friday’s visit came days after Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua travelled to Afghanistan and met with Afghan officials following series of militant attacks in Kabul that killed over 200 people. Janjua’s visit to Kabul was part of a larger dialogue many Afghans saw it as a response to their accusations against Islamabad.

On Friday, Karzai met Pakistani officials about a week after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insisted that the “center of Taliban terrorism is in Pakistan” and demanded that authorities in the neighbouring country “show some concrete action to rid their territory of insurgents.”

Ghani last week sent Afghan officials to share evidence that the Taliban attacks emanated from militant training centers in Pakistan. Afghanistan’s Intelligence Chief Masoom Stanikzai and Interior Minister Wais Ahmed Barmak at the time presented documentation and confessions from arrested men who Kabul believed were trained in Islamic seminaries in Pakistan.

Pakistan and Kabul often trade accusations that the other is harboring enemy insurgents.

AP/ IANS

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