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Former TTP spokesman Azam Tariq reported killed in Afghanistan

PESHAWAR: The former spokesperson for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Azam Tariq, has been killed in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in air strikes carried out by Afghan and Nato forces.

Three other TTP leaders have also been reportedly killed by the joint Afghan and Nato airstrikes in the Laman area of Paktika provice, said Pakistani security sources.

Raess Khan, who used the nom de guerre Azam Tariq, was killed in air strikes late on Saturday.

An advisor of TTP’s Khan Said Sajna group, Zeeshan Haider Mehsud, confirmed the death of Tariq and his son while fighting Afghan security forces.

The TTP advisor added that 10 other militants were killed in the fighting which erupted in Paktika province.

Khan Saeed Sajna, who had broken away from the TTP along with Tariq was reported killed earlier this year in an American drone strike which targeted the group in Afghanistan.

In 2014, Irfan Mehsud, a son of Azam Tariq, was killed in an exchange of fire with Pakistan Army troops in Bober.

Split from TTP

In May 2014, the outlawed TTP split into two factions after a major group based in South Waziristan quit the TTP and accused its leadership of having fallen into invisible hands and turning the TTP into an organisation providing safety to criminals.

“We announce separation from the TTP leadership which has deviated from its path”, Azam Tariq, spokesman for commander Khan Saeed Sajna had stated at the time of the split.

The new group was led by Sajna who changed his operational name to Khalid Mahsud.

It had accused the TTP leadership led by Mulla Fazlullah, the fugitive commander from Swat believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, of indulging in a baseless propaganda campaign against Afghan Taliban.

It had also accused the TTP leadership of killing religious scholars, extorting huge amounts of money from madressahs, carrying out bombings at public places on payment of money “from outside” and accepting responsibility for the bombings under assumed names and creating discord among different militant groups.

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