Security forces killed three terrorists, including an acquaintance of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, a top leader of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP), in two separate operations in different areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), according to statements issued by the military's media affairs wing on Saturday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Ghafoor alias Jaleel, a close acquaintance of TTP's Faqir Mohammad, was killed in an intelligence-based operation in Bajaur district.
Ghafoor was involved in many terrorist activities, the ISPR said, adding that a security official was injured during the exchange of fire in the operation.
Separately, the ISPR said, two more terrorists were killed in a clearance operation in the Boya area of North Waziristan district.
"The terrorists were spotted fleeing from Mohammad Khel Village towards Vezda Sar and [were] killed during an exchange of fire," according to the ISPR.
The killings have been reported a day after sources in the TTP claimed that Faqir Mohammad had escaped unhurt from a suspected drone strike on a safe house in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday.
Faqir Mohammad was arrested by the previous US-backed Kabul government and spent years in Afghanistan’s notorious Bagram prison, but was released after the Taliban’s lightning takeover of the country in August.
Two TTP sources currently in Afghanistan told AFP that Faqir Mohammad was the target of what they described as a drone strike on a compound in Chawgam village, in the eastern province of Kunar that borders Pakistan.
The compound was being used as a base by TTP fighters from Pakistan crossing the porous border with Afghanistan, one of the sources said.
Separately, Bilal Karimi, a spokesperson for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, told AFP from Kabul that the strike was an explosive fired from the ground.
However, it was not clear who was responsible for the attack, which came a week after a ceasefire between the TTP and the government collapsed, with militants accusing Islamabad of killing its fighters.