Three Pak Taliban factions claim hand

Sunday’s bombing was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since the military launched an offensive in mid-June in tribal areas of North Waziristan, killing over 1,200 insurgents.

Published: November 3, 2014 5:37 am

A splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it said the attack was a reaction to military operation Zarb-i-Azb. Jundallah (meaning ‘Soldiers of Allah’) is affiliated to al-Qaeda and was behind the killing of at least 78 Christians at a church in Peshawar in September last year, apart from a bid on the life of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a part of the Pakistani ruling coalition, on October 23.

The Zarb-i-Azb operation was launched by Pakistani armed forces in north Waziristan against militant groups in June.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group: A faction that broke away from the main TTP in September, it claimed one of its men carried out the Wagah attack, in retaliation for the killings in North Waziristan. Its spokesman said the attack was part of their war against the government and their attempt to enforce their version of Islamic law.

The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (freedom fighters group) was set up by half-a-dozen militant commanders who previously worked for the TTP but were expelled for “interfering in internal affairs of the Afghan Taliban”. It is headed by Omar Khalid Khorasani, who earlier this year claimed killing of 23 Pakistani paramilitaries held since 2010.

Mehsud group: Also a faction of the TTP, it is loyal to Hakimullah Mehsud. It said the attack was carried out to avenge Mehsud’s killing in a US drone strike last year.

The Mehsud group, under the leadership of Ameer Khalid Mehsud, separated from the central TTP earlier this year, saying the TTP was involved in kidnapping for ransom, extortion and blasts at public places while they only supported action against oppressors.
The Pakistani Taliban have been riven with rift since Maulana Fazlullah was elected head last November following the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud. Fazlullah, nicknamed “Radio Mullah”, was the de facto ruler of Pakistan’s Swat valley from 2007 to 2009, using his station to announce who his fighters would execute the next day.

The loosely aligned groups that now form TTP frequently share personnel, tactics and agendas and claims for specific incidents are often hard to verify.

Jundallah and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, however, both consider Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar their supreme leader. The Pakistani Taliban have always considered Mullah Omar their leader; though the Afghan Taliban have never formally owned them.

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