By Arif Qoreshi
In a air strike in eastern Afghanistan killed a dozen militants including a Banned group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Bajur Agency leader Mullah Dadullah, the international military coalition said Saturday.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan, confirmed the death of mullah Dadullah in a drone strike in Kunar. He said Maulana Abu Bakar has been named as the new chief of the Bajur region.
Mullah Dadullah, who is also known as Maulana Mohammad Jamal, and his deputy, Shakir, were among 12 Taliban fighters killed in an airstrike in the Shigal wa Sheltan district in Kunar province, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has been operating along both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, and has been responsible for numerous attacks on military and government targets in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan, and in Bajaur, Mohmand, and Dir in Pakistan.
Dadullah was in the middle of an intra-Taliban feud, which began in 2010 when Faqir Mohammed, the group’s previous emir for Bajaur as well as the deputy emir for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was accused by local Taliban leaders in Bajaur of failing to fight the Pakistani military during an offensive.
In December 2011, Dadullah lashed out at Faqir when the latter said he was conducting negotiations with the Pakistani military and government at the behest of the Taliban. Both Dadullah and Ihsanullah Ihsan, the group’s spokesman, rejected Faqir’s claim that he was negotiating with the approval of the Taliban, and said Dadullah was now in charge in Bajaur.
In March 2012, Ihsan said that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the overall emir for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, formally dismissed Faqir after a meeting of the group’s executive shura, or council. The move was controversial as Faqir is closely allied with Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda. Faqir is known to have sheltered Zawahiri and other top al Qaeda leaders in Bajaur.
Pakistani intelligence officials said Dadullah and 19 others were killed in the attack. Initially, they said the strike was on Pakistani territory, but later they conceded it was in Afghanistan.
Militant hideouts along the Afghan-Pakistan border have been a source of tension for both governments as well as for the coalition, with each saying the others are not doing enough to expel the various pro-Taliban factions.