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Pak Taliban Commander Revolts Against Chief Fazlullah

Sajjad Hussain/Islamabad

A powerful brash commander of the Pakistani Taliban today revolted against the leadership of Mullah Fazullah and announced the militant group's split, in what appeared to be a serious blow to the outfit linked to brazen attacks inside Pakistan.

The new group called TTP Jamatul Ahrar is headed by Omar Khalid Khorasani who was the Taliban chief in Mohmand tribal region and is considered as a ruthless commander.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman, who now sides with Khorasani, said in a statement that the new outfit has the support of 70 to 80 per cent of Taliban commanders and fighters who have severed allegiance to Fazlullah.

Ehsan accused Fazlullah, nicknamed "Mullah Radio", of betraying the group and joining hands with people who had been involved in the killing of Taliban fighters.

A Taliban source told PTI that Khorasani had differences with Fazlullah, who was the de facto ruler of Pakistan's idyllic Swat valley from 2007 to 2009, over several issues.

"The problem started when Fazlullah started peace talks with Pakistan government," according to the source.

Khorasani first tried to sabotage the talks by killing 23 soldiers who were in his custody. Later, he set up his own Ahrarul Hind group and carried out several attacks including the one on district courts in Islamabad.

He also was not happy with Fazlullah who spent more time in Afghanistan and could not concentrate in militant activities inside Pakistan.

Ehsan said the new group will fight for the implementation of Sharia law in Pakistan.

But Khorasani is also closely linked with Al-Qaeda and his emergence as independent leader may result in a new wave of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Already the group has claimed responsibility of attack on the tribal police force in Khyber this week which left three personnel dead.

Separation of Khorasani is another blow to Fazlullah after Khan Sajna parted ways in South Waziristan and started working as independent commander.

The split came when Taliban are already on the run due to a massive operation launched in North Waziristan by Pakistani forces in which the country's military claims more than 900 rebels have been killed.

The all-out onslaught against the insurgents were launched in June after a brazen attack by the militants on Karachi airport.

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PLACES: Pakistan
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 04 September, 2014
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