Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Taliban deputy leader Mehsud killed in USA drone strike

Taliban deputy leader Mehsud killed in USA drone strike

They said the deputy chief of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, Khan Said Mehsud, also known as Sajna, was returning from the adjacent Afghan border province of Khost when missiles fired from an unmanned aircraft hit his vehicle.

Wali, according to Reuters, will now train militants in South Waziristan, a rugged mountainous region on the Afghan border which has always been home to Pakistani, Afghan, and al Qaeda-linked foreign militants. The group is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.

In December, gunmen from the militant group stormed a college in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least nine people and injuring 36.

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Bajwa's presence is particularly significant as both Afghan and US officials ratchet up pressure on Pakistan to close Taliban sanctuaries on its soil.

The Pakistani military mounted a major offensive against the militants in 2014, forcing many of them to withdraw into Afghanistan.

But there were conflicting accounts of the drone attack from Pakistani intelligence officials and militant sources.

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TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani said Sajna was also heading the Mehsud faction of the Taliban and that, following his death, the top leadership appointed Mufti Noor Wali Wali to replace their dead deputy.

He can be described as a true successor to the first two chiefs of TTP - Baitullah Mehsud, the group's founder, and Hakimullah Mehsud.

In May 2016, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mansour, was also killed in a United States drone strike in Pakistan, meeting the same fate as the head of TTP, Hakimullah Mehsud, did in 2013.

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Fazlullah tried to retaliate and sideline Mehsud by naming his rivals as the head of the TTP in South Waziristan - but was forced to give in after Mehsud's supporters fought and defeated Fazlullah's nominees.

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