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Pakistan's Military Says Spokesman Of Taliban Faction Surrenders

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal April 17, 2017

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- Pakistan's military said on April 17 that a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has surrendered along with other members of the Tehrik-e Taliban (TTP) militant group.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director-general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations Agency, the military's media wing, identified the detained Taliban spokesman as Ehsanullah Ehsan, saying he had served as a spokesman for both the TTP and a Taliban-linked terrorist faction called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is the group that claimed responsibility for the December 2014 terrorist attack on a Peshawar school that killed 147 people, most of them schoolchildren.

Ghafoor told reporters in Rawalpindi on April 17 that the spokesman "is not the only one" who has surrendered to Pakistani security forces, adding that he would share information at a later date about others who have surrendered.

Pakistani intelligence sources told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that Ehsanullah Ehsan is an alias used by several different people who are spokesmen for the TTP and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction.

Those officials told RFE/RL that the militant who surrendered is named Sajjad Mohmand and that he had turned himself in to Pakistani authorities in mid-March.

Ghafoor would not confirm that information or provide further details.

However, TTP sources also have confirmed to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that one of their spokesmen had surrendered.

There was no immediate comment from the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction.

The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar split away from the TTP in September 2014 and the faction voiced support for the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

The split came when Jamaat-ul-Ahrar commander Omar Khalid Khorasani and his associates in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal region publicly accused the TTP leader in Pakistan's Swat Valley, Maulana Fazlulah, of deviating from the TTP's strict Islamic fundamentalist ideology.

Fazlullah said in September 2014 that he had ousted Khorasani and his associates from the TTP because they had formed what Fazlullah described as "dubious" organizations.

At the time of the split, Khorasani was considered to be one of the Pakistani Taliban's most powerful leaders in Pakistan's tribal regions.

Khorasani attracted international attention as the alleged mastermind of a December 2014 terrorist attack on a Peshawar school.

In March 2015, a Jamat-ul-Ahrar spokesman announced that the faction was rejoining the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan's military and Pakistani Taliban sources have said that Khorasani was killed in July 2016 by a U.S. drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Pamir Sahil, Reuters, and AP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/a/pakistan-taliban-faction- spokesman-surrenders/28435439.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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