New Delhi: Over the last fortnight, four key terrorists Pakistan had been hunting for years were assassinated in Afghanistan and Iran.
The developments came days after Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s former spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan mysteriously escaped from the custody of Pakistan Army.
Reports about Ehsan’s escape came last week after he released a video saying the Pakistan Army failed to keep up its part of the deal with him.
Pakistan hasn’t released a statement on the 11 January escape of Ehsan, who was the public face for attacks on Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and the 2014 Peshawar Army Public School massacre that killed 134 students.
Ehsan’s escape and the subsequent killings have also caught the eye of the Indian security agencies that are keenly following the developments to see if there are any links between the two set of events, said sources in the establishment.
Key terrorists killed
On Thursday, the TTP confirmed the killing of two of its top leaders in a remote-controlled blast in northeast Afghanistan.
In the roadside IED blast in Kunar province, Shehryar Mehsud, who led the Hakimullah Mehsud group of TTP, was killed along with another key TTP leader Qari Saif.
The latest killings came just a week after Pakistani Taliban leader confirmed the killing of another key leader, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani.
In its 6 February statement, TTP said Haqqani was killed in an encounter with Afghan security forces on 31 January. It did not disclose details, but said the terrorist was on his way to carry out an attack when Afghan forces stopped him and shot him dead.
Haqqani’s killing is seen as a huge setback to the TTP since he was leading the group’s religious section, using it for propaganda.
“Haqqani was known as the top religious cleric of the group who also issued a decree against the journalists in 2014 declaring them a ‘party’ to the conflict in the country,” Saboor Khattak, a Peshawar-based senior journalist, was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency.
Afzal, the self-styled regional commander of Baloch Republican Army (BRA), was also assassinated on 8 February in Iran’s Saravan city near the Iran-Pakistan border, Pakistani sources told ThePrint.
An official in the Indian security establishment said, “The killings are interesting developments that is suddenly taking place amid increasing dependence by the US on Pakistan for an Afghan way out.”
The US is currently negotiating a tripartite peace deal with the Afghani Taliban and Afghanistan in a bid to completely pull out its troops from the war-torn country. Pakistan is facilitating the talks.
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