PESHAWAR: The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday confirmed the weekend killing of its former spokesman in neighboring Afghanistan and vowed to avenge the murder.

The TTP announced on Twitter the death of the man known as Mohammad Khurasani, which is an alias. His real name was Khalid Balti.

The confirmation comes days after security officials said the former spokesman for the TTP had been shot dead in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The TTP did not confirm the claim until Thursday.

The current TTP spokesman, who also goes by the name Mohammad Khurasani, said on Twitter that Balti was killed on Jan 9 while travelling. He said Balti’s death was a great loss and his death would soon be avenged.

Balti was a commander of the TTP and he served as the group’s spokesman from 2011 to 2015. That’s when he was arrested in Afghanistan and was freed after the Taliban seized power. Since then, the TTP has been emboldened.

In November last year, Pakistan announced a month-long ceasefire with the TTP. The group has been behind numerous attacks on security forces and civilians over the last 14 years.

The ceasefire ended on Dec 9, 2021 and since then the group has resumed attacks. The Afghan Taliban have assured Islamabad that they will not allow the TTP to use the Afghan soil for violence in Pakistan.

TTP chief Noor Wali and his fighters are believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022



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