Taliban splinter group claims eight senior TTP commanders have defected to it due to disagreements with Pakistani Taliban leadership.
Eight senior commanders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have withdrawn support for the umbrella grouping of militants in the country and joined a splinter faction that had refused to even consider peace talks with the government.
“The TTP is going against the ideologies of its former chief, Baitullah Mehsud, prompting eight senior commanders, including a member of the Taliban shura, to part ways with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and join the Ahrar-ul-Hind,” said Asad Mansoor, a spokesman for the group, through a statement shared with media. “With the inclusion of these commanders, Ahrar-ul-Hind has now established itself as a completely separate jihadi organization,” he added.
According to the statement, the group has restructured its leadership to reflect the expertise of the new commanders. “Maulana Umar Qasmi will now be our ameer (chief). Meanwhile, to strengthen our group in the tribal belt, we will have former TTP commander Maulana Abdullah in Bajaur as regional head. In Malakand, our efforts will be led by former TTP commander Amin-ul-Salam, who used to lead TTP militants in Orakzai Agency,” it added.
The statement reiterated Ahrar-ul-Hind’s opposition to the failed peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban. “We will continue attacking security forces and public locations until shariah has been implemented in Pakistan,” it added. “We will start attacking our targets as soon as the holy month of Ramzan ends.”
Ahrar-ul-Hind previously claimed responsibility for an attack on the district courts in Islamabad that killed 11, including a liberal judge. The group has also claimed attacks in Peshawar and Quetta and has pledged to target Pakistan’s urban areas.