PESHAWAR: A senior leader of the banned Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Sheharyar Mehsud, was killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan’s Kunar province on Wednesday.
Official sources confirmed the killing of Sheharyar in a roadside bomb blast but family members expressed ignorance about the incident.
“We have no information about the killing of Sheharyar,” a close relative of the slain TTP leader told Dawn’s correspondent in South Waziristan on Thursday. No group has claimed responsibility for the killing of Sheharyar.
Last week, two leaders of proscribed organisations — Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saifullah — were killed in a gun battle with security forces in Afghanistan.
Sheharyar Mehsud had fled to Afghanistan after launch of operation Zarb-i-Azb
Sheharyar belonged to Shabikhel, a sub-section of Mehsud tribe.
Hailing from the Zangara area of South Waziristan tribal district, Sheharyar had reportedly moved to Afghanistan in the wake of operation Zarb-i-Azb against militants in North Waziristan in June 2014. At that time, several top militant leaders had fled to eastern provinces of Afghanistan, including Nangarhar and Kunar.
Sources said that 43 years old Sheharyar was a frontrunner in the race for the position of the TTP chief after the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud in a drone strike in 2013. However, the TTP shura had nominated Maulana Fazlullah as its head and Khalid Haqqani as his deputy.
After Fazlullah, who did not belong to Mehsud tribe, became TTP chief, factional fighting between different groups intensified, particularly between the groups led by Sheharyar and Khan Said alias Sajna.
Another TTP leader, Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid, parted ways with the TTP and named his faction Jamatul Ahrar, whose spokesman was Ehsanullah Ehsan, who surrendered to security agencies in 2017 and has reportedly escaped from custody recently.
Sources said that Sheharyar’s brother Ahmad Yar and another family member Anar Gul were killed under mysterious circumstances for which he blamed his rivals in the TTP.
According to reports, the Sheharyar group had clashed with rival factions in Afghanistan which claimed lives of many militants from both sides.
Sheharyar’s father, sources said, had been residing in Islamabad and had established an English medium school in Tank district, adjacent to South Waziristan.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020