Photo: ALI KHARA/REUTERS/Deutsche Welle
The death of the senior commander of the Taliban group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities signed with the Government of Pakistan to establish peace in the country.
Abdul Wali, known as Omar Khalid Khurasani, was traveling through Afghanistan’s southeastern border province of Paktika on Sunday night when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani confirmed the high commander’s death last night, without providing further details.
Two other senior leaders of the formation, Mufti Hassan Swati and Hafiz Dawlat Khan, are also believed to have been killed in the same incident, according to various local media reports.
Khurasani had a $3 million bounty and was considered a leader of TTP hardliner.
For the moment, no terrorist group or organization has claimed responsibility for this attack, which could shake the peace talks that the Government of Pakistan and the TTP have been negotiating for months under the mediation of the Taliban in Kabul.
Both factions agreed last November to a one-month ceasefire with the previous government of Prime Minister Imran Khan in an attempt to bring positions closer, but, after the date, the Taliban unilaterally decided not to extend the cessation of hostilities, accusing Islamabad of not respect the understanding reached between the two.
However, during the month of Ramadan, another ceasefire was decided and remains in force, while negotiations with the current government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif continue.
In recent months, several meetings have been held between the Pakistani government and the TTP leadership, in which tribal elders and clerics have also participated, to establish peace in the country after more than a decade of conflict.
The TTP is an umbrella of several tribal armed groups created in 2007 that seek to impose an Islamic State in Pakistan and is an ally of the Afghan Taliban, to whom they are loyal.
Since its formation, the group has carried out a brutal campaign of terrorist attacks across the country, killing thousands of people, including an assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai in 2012. In 2014, at the age of 17, the young Pakistani would receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for girls’ education.
Terrorist violence has decreased markedly in Pakistan since the army launched an operation in the northwestern tribal areas in June 2014, which it later expanded to the rest of the country, weakening the TTP.
But in recent months the attacks have increased again, coinciding with the rise to power in Afghanistan of the Afghan Taliban, who took control of Kabul in mid-August.