A militant group admitted on Tuesday the death of three of its senior cadres in a March 13 strike by an unmanned US Predator in Birmal tehsil of South Waziristan Agency.
In a pamphlet distributed locally, the Mullah Nazir-led Taliban faction, however, warned that their ranks were swelling contrary to common perception.
This come amidst reports that the Taliban have been weakened by infighting and supply of fresh recruits has dried up for them.
The pamphlet identified the dead militant commanders as Shamsullah, Amir Hamza Tojikhel and Qari Haleemullah.
“We were less in numbers when we were affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan but now under the leadership of Mullah Nazir, we are in thousands,” reads the pamphlet.
The group also vowed to avenge the death of its commanders in drone attacks. “Infidels are subjecting the Muslim world to atrocities – mosques and madrassas are being targeted; even children of four to six months of age are not spared,” it said.
The Mullah Nazir group, which is opposed to the TTP and its chief Hakimullah Mehsud, is allied with another powerful militant commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Waziristan.
Bahadur has a peace treaty with the government and his fighters don’t attack Pakistani security forces and are focussing only on what they call ‘jihad’ against US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in Swat district police claimed on Tuesday that they had arrested a close associate Mullah Fazlullah, the former TTP chief in the region.
Fazal Hadi was arrested by Charbagh police late Monday night on a tip-off. Hadi was allegedly involved in flogging a married woman at Asharbanr village in Charbagh tehsil.
Saira Bibi, who was married to Fazal Amin, a day labourer, was awarded 30 lashes in 2009 by a self-styled Taliban shura without hearing her. She was accused of having illicit relations with another man by Hadi and her husband’s relatives. (With additional reporting by our correspondent in Swat)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.
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