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Pakistani Taliban commander shot dead in tribal region

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 15, IRNA -- Unidentified gunmen assassinated a wanted and senior Pakistani Taliban commander in insurgent-infested North Waziristan tribal region, witnesses in the region said Friday.

Maulvi Muhammad Iftikhar, one of the top level commanders of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was attacked in Miranshah, center of North Waziristan, late Thursday evening when he was travelling in a car with his guards. One of his guards was also killed while two others were injured, they said.

Motives behind the killing were not known but security officials believe that internal differences within the militants may be resulted into the incident.

Slain Iftikhar, who had been running a religious school in North Waziristan, was wanted to the authorities for attacks on security forces.

He was also one of the main suspects in attack on the security personnel in the Islamabad’s Red Mosque gun-battle in July 2008. He shifted to North Waziristan after the Red Mosque operation, which had killed several security personnel and militants, including Deputy Chief of the mosque.

Witnesses said the gunmen in a car with tented screens opened fire on the TTP commander who was heading to market from his religious school. They fled after the attack.

No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Security sources believe that the killing may be the result of differences in the ranks of different militant groups in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. The US officials consider North Waziristan a main base for al-Qaeda and Haqqani network, whose members cross-border into Afghanistan for attacks on foreign and Afghan forces.

Maulvi Iftikhar had shifted to North Waziristan, the only Taliban stronghold, after the Red Mosque military operation. He was studied in a Taliban-linked ‘madrassa’ in Islamabad, according to TTP sources and his students.

It is the second killing of the TTP senior member in North Waziristan in less than four months.

In late June, gunmen had shot dead a senior Pakistani Taliban commander Shakirullah Shakir near Miranshah.

Also in August, Muhamamd Hanif, a prominent militant commander of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an associate of the Haqqani network, was killed in North Waziristan during a clash with a rival group.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur group of the Taliban is not part of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had signed a peace deal with the security forces in 2007 and both sides hold the agreement.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30611794

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