MIRANSHAH: At least 12 militants died during a shootout between rival factions in a restive Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border yesterday, officials said, while two died in a separate attack.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Taliban commander Khan Said Sajna and followers of the late TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud clashed in the Shawal area of the troubled North Waziristan district, a security official said.
Four other militants were wounded during the gunfight which was still continuing, the official said late yesterday.
Local intelligence officials and militant sources confirmed the clash and casualties.
Earlier in the day two militants were killed in a bomb blast at a bazaar in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, known as a stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda linked militants.
“It was a remote control bomb which targeted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants. Two of them have been killed and two others are injured,” an intelligence official said.
A militant source confirmed the attack, and said that those killed were members of the main faction of the TTP, headed by warlord Mullah Fazlullah.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but infighting between different Taliban factions have killed dozens of people in the area recently.
Washington calls the region the most dangerous place in the world.
The latest attack comes two weeks after the Pakistani Taliban formally ended a ceasefire called to promote talks with the government aimed at ending the militants’ bloody seven-year insurgency.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began negotiations with the TTP through intermediaries in February, with the ceasefire beginning March 1.
Since the TTP rose up against the Pakistani state in 2007, more than 6,800 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks around Pakistan, according to a tally.
Violence erupted last month between the Sajna and Mehsud factions, both part of the TTP, which has been waging a bloody seven-year insurgency against the state.
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. AFP