Three militant commanders of Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were killed in an ambush by a local Afghan tribal militia (lashkar) on Wednesday evening, the militant organisation’s spokesperson confirmed.
The ambush took place in Khoga Khel Goshta area in the Afghan province of Nangarhar near the Pak-Afghan border.
The militant group’s spokesperson Dr Aziz Yusafzai confirmed that on Wednesday evening, three top commanders of his group were killed, including Hizbul Ahrar’s militant wing commander Jehad Yar Mehsood.
Jehad Yar, who hailed from South Waziristan, was also a close aide of TTP leaders Baitullah Mehsood and Hakeemullah Mehsood, and was also in charge of leading the brutal militant operation Ghazi in 2017 against Pakistan.
He lead the attacks, first as part of Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), another splinter group of TTP, and then as part of Hizbul Ahrar after parting ways with the JuA due to differences with its leader Umar Khalid Khorasani.
The two had also butted heads over operation Ghazi, under which the militants led many brutal bomb blasts in Lahore, Mardan, Charsadda and Quetta, including the 2017 suicide attack inside the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan that left more than 80 people dead and injuring at least 350 others.
Umer Kamal was also part of JuA and was working as its Nawagai commander in Bajaur Agency in the past. But he later joined Hizbul Ahrar after developing differences Khorasani.
Although the spokesperson for Hizbul Ahrar did not confirm of rifts with JuA, but according to sources, the militant commanders killed Wednesday had clashed with the local Afghan tribal militia that had JuA’s backing.
The sources say firing between the two militant groups has been continually reported in the Khoga Khel area of Goshta district in Nangarhar ever since Hizbul Ahrar was formed in November 2017.
Hizbul Ahrar chief Mukarram Khosrani lays the blame on JuA’s Khorasani for targeting Pakistani civilians in the bomb blasts across the country as part of their militant operation.
A large number of Hizbul Ahrar militants have surrendered to the Pakistan Army in the past, including JuA spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan.