Taliban confirms senior leader killed by US air strike
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), better known simply as the Pakistani Taliban, confirmed on Monday that the deputy head of the group had been killed by a drone strike, APA reports quoting Sputnik.
US missile strikes that landed on the Taliban camp in Afghanistan's Paktika Province last week are believed to have eliminated Taliban leader Khalid Mehsud. "We confirm that deputy head of the TTP, Khalid Mehsud, died in a drone strike," a spokesman told Reuters. The event marks the end of a three-year manhunt by the US, according to the Long War Journal.
US intelligence officials monitoring TTP and al-Qaeda told Long Wars Journal that the deputy was a "close ally of al-Qaeda up until his death."
In Mehsud's place the Pakistani Taliban has appointed a commander known as Mufti Noor Wali Wali.
The Pakistani Taliban has been accused of committing terrorist attacks against the Pakistani government and military. Islamabad has also alleged that the TTP is supported by India's external espionage and intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Last April, former TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan disclosed that the TTP had "established and developed connections with India and RAW," Pakistan Today reported.
The US has accused the Pakistani government of providing a safe haven for terrorists, which "continues to allow the Afghan Taliban [to be based in areas of] western Pakistan and to use the territory as a springboard for attacking the US-backed government across the border in Afghanistan," Brian Williams, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, told Sputnik.
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