From Mona Wardag
KABUL: Senior Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Omar Khalid Khorasani and two other members of the banned outfit were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan on Monday, according to Taliban spokesman Muhamamad Khorasani.
Omar’s real name was Abdul Wali Mohmand and he previously headed the TTP in the Mohmand Agency bordering Afghanistan.
In a statement Monday, TTP officials said that the car carrying Omar came under attack in the eastern Paktika province near the Barmal district on Sunday evening.
They urged the Taliban government in Afghanistan to investigate the incident and unearth “spies” who could be responsible for the death of senior TTP leaders.
Apart from Omar, the two other men killed in the attack have been identified as Mufti Hassan and Hafiz Dawlat Khan. They were among several TTP leaders who had joined the outlawed Daesh in 2014.
It is pertinent to mention here that Omar was a member of the TTP team involved in negotiations with Pakistani officials, Pashtoon jirgas and recently with religious scholars over the past few weeks.
Recently, a jirga member had posted the TTP leader’s photo on the sideline of its meeting with Pakistan’s side which had held two rounds of talks in Kabul in the first week of June and late July.
Omar and a majority of the TTP members from Mohmand agency had parted ways with the TTP and formed a splinter faction Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat Ahrar (TTP-JA) in 2014.
The then TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah had sacked him after he had announced the formation of his own group Jamaat ul Ahrar, which comprised of almost all the Taliban leaders from the Mohmad Agency. Omar had accused the TTP leadership of deviating from the outfit’s ideology.
The group received prominence when Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the Wagah border suicide attack in November 2014, in which over 70 people, almost all civilians, were killed.
The TTP leader’s killing could be seen as a major blow to the group, especially at a time when it is involved in talks with the Pakistani government.
Omar was wanted by the Pakistani government for his involvement in a series of attacks on security forces, tribal elders and members of the peace committee in the area.
In July 2017, one of the UN Security Council’s sanctions committees, upon Pakistan’s request, had approved the addition of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar in the list of entities and individuals subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.
Meanwhile, the United States added Omar’s name to the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice wanted list in March 2018. The US had announced a reward of up to $3 million for information on him.
In recent years, several TTP leaders, including former chief Maulvi Fazallah, have been killed in Afghanistan after they crossed into the border due to military operation in the tribal areas, Swat and parts of the Malakand division. Fazlullah, who served the TTP chief in Swat, was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province in June 2018.