Infighting between two groups of the Mehsud chapter of Pakistani Taliban in Karachi has now spilled over to Tank, neighboring South Waziristan. Tribal elders fear it could affect the security situation in the area.
Ehsanullah alias Warghoom Kay, a Karachi commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who was loyal to Hakimullah Mehsud, has set up a new faction of TTP in Tank district and Frontier Region Tank. Militants belonging to the new group have distributed pamphlets in Gomal, Sarang Zona and other Mehsud areas of Tank and some parts of Frontier Region Jandola asking locals to resolve mutual issues through the ‘mujahedeen’.
“Some elements posing as TTP and threatening the people living in Tank and Gomal areas are not associated with the movement, and local residents should complain at the given telephone numbers,” said the handbill.
“Militants loyal to Hakimullah have formed the group to counter the faction led by Khan Said aka Sajna,” according to a Mehsud tribal elder in Tank district who is familiar with Taliban activities in Karachi and Tank.
Differences between the factions of the TTP led by Hakimullah Mehusd and Waliur Rehman emerged over who will replace their emir Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a drone strike in August 2009. They were compelled to reconcile when the Taliban Shura made Hakimullah the new emir with Waliur Rehman as his deputy. The split resurfaced when Waliur Rehman was killed in a drone strike in May 2013, and his followers appointed Khan Said aka Sajna to replace him, without consulting Hakimullah. Hakimullah appointed his own man Latif Mehsud as the deputy head of the TTP, after he had developed serious differences with Sajna. Latif was arrested by US troops from the Logar province of Afghanistan on October 5, 2013, where he had gone to hold talks with Afghan intelligence officials.
“Militants loyal to Hakimullah have formed a new group to counter the faction led by Khan Said aka Sajna”
The Mehsud faction of Taliban in Karachi also split into two groups – one loyal to TTP’s former chief Hakimullah, while the other loyal to TTP South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman.
Hakimullah had appointed Qari Yar Muhammad the TTP emir in Karachi, and Sher Khan as his operational commander.
Waliur Rehman appointed Mufti Noor Wali as TTP Karachi chief and Khan Zaman as the Karachi commander.
Violent clashes between the two groups erupted after fighters loyal to Waliur Rehman killed Sher Khan in the Manghopir area of Karachi on August 16 last year. At least 30 key leaders of Hakimullah Mehsud have been murdered by the rival faction since then.
By now, the Waliur Rehman group has expelled the Hakimullah faction from Karachi, according to intelligence officials and Mehsud tribal elders who are monitoring TTP activities in the city. Hakimullah and Waliur Rehman were both killed in drone strikes last year, on November 1 and May 29 respectively.
“Warghoom Kay, the new chief of TTP’s Hakimullah faction, was also severely injured in a violent clash between the two groups in Sohrab Goth area of Karachi,” says a Karachi-based Mehsud tribal elder, adding that his injuries were treated at a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan.
Elders and sources say the Hakimullah faction lost the battle because it had no powerful commander to replace Hakimullah. Some Mehsud militants associated with Hakimullah, who had refused to work under Sajna and were working with the Haqqani Network and some cells of Al Qaeda, are now joining the new group in Tank.
Although there are no reports of violent clashes between the Warghoom Kay and Sajna groups so far, local residents fear that violence will erupt in Tank and Jandola in the near future.
The author is a journalist and a researcher
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