LADHA: The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirmed on Satur­day that one of its senior leaders, Mohammad Hassan, was killed in a clash with security forces in Boya area in North Waziristan Agency two days ago.

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement that Mohammad Hassan hailed from Kabul and, after his release from a prison in Afghanistan, had “rejoined jihad” in Pakistan along with his friends.

The military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, said in a statement that three terrorists were killed in an encounter between security forces and militants during a clearance operation in Boya area. A soldier, Naib Subedar Muzammil, also lost his life.

With the statement, the TTP also released 12 photographs of the funeral prayer of Mohammad Hassan. The pictures showed TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah leading the prayer in a forest area dominated by oak trees.

In one photograph, he is seen speaking to a small group of militants who attended the funeral.

Said Khan Sajna, who leads his own faction of the TTP in the Mehsud area of South Waziristan, stood behind Fazlullah during the prayer.

According to unconfirmed reports, Mohammad Hassan’s last rites were offered across the border in Afghanistan. The government claims that Fazlullah has taken refuge in that country.

Warring factions bury the hatchet: Two rival factions of the TTP comprising Mehsud tribesmen, led by Sajna and Sheheryar Mehsud, haved reconciled due to efforts made by Mullah Fazlullah, according to sources.

They said that on the directives of Mullah Fazlullah, the two factions had held a meeting in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan and appointed Sajna the interim head of the TTP in the Mehsud area for two months.

After Eidul Azha, Mullah Fazlullah will convene another meeting of the two groups to select a permanent chief of the TTP’s Mehsud branch.

Sources said that the reconciliation between the two groups would complicate matters for security forces engaged in the Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan as the Sajna group had joined the fight against them after the reunion.

Earlier after clashes with the Sheheryar group, Sajna had established back-channel contacts with the government and was expected to quit the TTP.

The infighting between the two factions, which took place before the operation was launched in June, left over 150 militants dead.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2014

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