After nearly two weeks of eerie silence, the mountainous Shawal tehsil of North Waziristan Agency again reverberated with gunshots and rocket explosions on Tuesday. Renewed fighting between rival factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed six lives and left another seven fighters injured.
Sporadic clashes between the two factions – Shehryar Mehsud-led Hakimullah Group and Waliur Rahman Group of Khan Said, alias Sajna – have been continuing since April, this year. Dozens of fighters have been killed from both sides.
Two weeks back, senior TTP commanders intervened to broker a truce between the warring groups. Subsequently, the two factions agreed to cease fire. However, they abruptly ended the truce on Tuesday – for no apparent reason, and took positions against each other.
Six militants have been killed and seven wounded in the ensuing fighting which is ongoing, a security official said. It was not immediately known which group suffered the most casualties.
The fighting first started in the first week of April in South Waziristan Agency, and quickly escalated to the adjoining North Waziristan Agency and Tank district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan intervened to get the fighting stopped. After a brief hiatus, fighting broke out again on May 8 causing more casualties.
Shehryar Mehsud and Khan Said are claimants to the position of TTP chief in South Waziristan.
Taking notice of the deadly infighting TTP chief Maulana Fazlullah stepped in to settle the issue. He sacked Khan Said as the group’s emir in South Waziristan and replaced him with Shehryar Mehsud. Khan Said, however, refused to accept Mullah Fazlullah’s decision which was subsequently not endorsed by TTP’s Political Shura.
Local tribesmen say that the fighting that broke out on Tuesday is intensifying in magnitude as both sides are using small and heavy weapons against each other.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2014.