Taliban fighters pose with weapons in an undisclosed location in Nangarhar province in this December 13, 2010 picture. — Photo by Reuters
PESHAWAR: Clashes between the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups erupted in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region as hundreds of fighters attacked TTP bases situated in Kunar and Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
Taliban sources said hundreds of armed fighters comprising Lashkar-i-Taiba, Ansarul Islam (AI), 'Mohmand force' and other local militias (lashkars) were part of a joint attack on Pakistani Taliban positions in Afghanistan.
Earlier, reports had said that the Afghan Taliban were also backing the attacking groups but later the TTP requested Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar to intervene and as a result the clash was averted. Rival groups have now initiated another attack of which the Afghan Taliban are not a part, said TTP commander.
Mukarram Khurasani, spokesman for the TTP's Mohmand chapter chief Omar Khalid, told Dawn.com that hundreds of militants had attacked the Pakistani Taliban positions in Shongrai and the bordering village of Jarobi Darra.
Khurasani also accused Lashkar-i-Taiba commander Haji Abdul Rahim of leading the attackers.
The Shah Khalid group is also supporting the attack. Most of the TTP hideouts targetted, belong to Swat Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah and Mohmand Taliban led by Umar Khalid Khurasani.
The Taliban's Mohmand chapter chief also claimed that the attack had been repulsed and said that one attacker was killed while three were injured.
Meanwhile, Lashkar-i-Taiba spokesperson Mahmud Ghaznavi rejected the allegations that the group was involved in the clashes. Ghaznavi said that the Lashkar-i-Taiba is operational only in Kashmir and has nothing to do with the TTP or the Afghan Taliban.
The exact number of causalities could not independently verified as the area is a 'no-man's land' where the Afghan government has no writ and militants exercise control.
Most of the militants under attack are believed to be associated with the TTP who had escaped military operations in Mohmand, Bajaur, Malakand division and Khyber tribal region in neighboring Pakistan.
The clash might be a continuation of the killing of militant commander Shah Sahib, who led another Islamist group engaged in fighting US-led Nato troops in Afghanistan and was based in Mohmand Agency since 2006.
TTP militants led by Umar Khalid Khurasani attacked the training centre of the Shah group on July 19, 2008, killing many, including Shah Sahib. Most of the Shah Sahib loyalists were either kidnapped or killed and the group was eliminated from Mohmand tribal region.
Most members of the group are presently part of tribal lashkars (local militias) rivaling the TTP.