Top Pakistan Taliban commander killed in Afghanistan

(Photo: AFP)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A senior commander of Pakistan’s Taliban was killed by a blast in eastern Afghanistan, the militant organization said Tuesday.اضافة اعلان

Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) said Abdul Wali — a notorious commander who used the alias Omar Khalid Khorasani — had been “martyred in an attack by the enemy”.

A TTP source told AFP that many commanders wanted to call off a shaky ceasefire agreed with the Pakistan government as a result of Wali’s death, but mediators from Afghanistan’s Taliban persuaded them to hold out.

The Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban are separate groups, but share a common ideology.

The source told AFP that Wali and three companions were killed when a blast hit their car as they were returning from a meeting with the TTP’s top leader.

Afghan authorities have accused Pakistan in the past of carrying out cross-border raids — including using drones — but Islamabad rarely acknowledges such action.

Wali has been a thorn in the side of the Pakistan military for over a decade.

In 2014 he formed a separate, more-militant faction of the Taliban known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest attacks in the country — including a suicide bomb in Lahore on Easter Sunday in 2016 that killed 75 people.

He announced a merger with the TTP two years ago, and this June the umbrella group declared an “indefinite ceasefire” with Islamabad after peace talks brokered by the Afghan Taliban began in Kabul.

Since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan last year, Islamabad has increasingly complained of attacks by the TTP, especially along the porous frontier with the country.

On Tuesday Pakistan’s military said four soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a military convoy near the frontier in North Waziristan, where the TTP are prominent.

Kabul insists it will not allow Afghan soil to be used by militant groups plotting against its neighbors.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced that Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri was assassinated in a US drone strike in Kabul, calling into question the Taliban’s promise not to harbor militant groups.

The Taliban later issued a carefully phrased statement that neither confirmed Zawahiri’s presence in Afghanistan nor acknowledged his death.

The peace talks have angered many in Pakistan, who remember brutal attacks by the TTP — including on schools, hotels, churches, and markets.

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