Islamabad: Pakistani Taliban confirmed on Monday that its senior commander was killed in a US drone strike in the country’s North Waziristan tribal region last week and said they had appointed a new deputy to take his place.
A spokesperson of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said that Khan Saeed Mehsud alias Khalid Sajna, the deputy chief of the group, was killed on February 8 in the drone attack in North Waziristan, on the Pakistani side of the border.
However, the Pakistani media had reported earlier that Sajna came under the attack in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, bordering Pakistan. Three of his guards were also killed in the strike.
TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani said Sajna was also heading the Mehsud faction of the Taliban and that, following his death, the top leadership appointed Mufti Noor Wali Wali to replace their dead deputy.
According to reports, Sajna’s death is a major blow to the group, which is blamed for most of the terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Several top leaders of the TTP and the Afghan Taliban have been killed in US drone strikes on Pakistani territory.
In October, the TTP confirmed the death of the mastermind of the 2014 attack on a Pakistani school, in which 125 students were killed, some 15 months after Pakistan announced that the terrorist had died in a US bombing.
In May 2016, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mansour, was also killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan, meeting the same fate as the head of TTP, Hakimullah Mehsud, did in 2013.
Since 2004, the US has carried out around 410 drone attacks in Pakistan that have claimed between 2,361 and 3,688 lives, according to the American think tank New America, although strikes have reduced in recent years.