Dozens killed in Taliban infighting in South Waziristan

Two factions of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, one led by Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the group’s emir for South Waziristan, and another by Sajna Mehsud, a senior commander, are currently fighting in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency. At least 24 fighters, including a local commander known as Kasheed Mehsud, are reported to have been killed since Sunday, according to The News.

Reports say the fighting is occurring between factions of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan that disagree over negotiations with the Pakistani government. And Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, who led the group’s executive council, was gunned down in North Waziristan in February for supporting negotiations. The Taliban’s spokesman denied, however, that the infighting is due to negotiations:

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid confirmed the fighting between the two militant factions but denied that it was due to differences over negotiations.

“It happens and sometime people of one group develop differences over certain issues. But I want to explain that the fighting between the two groups was not over the peace talks,” Shahidullah Shahid insisted.

Jihadist factions in Pakistan’s tribal areas occasionally clash over various different issues. These disputes are often resolved after senior Taliban and al Qaeda officials step in. For instance, top leaders of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and the Haqqani Network intervened after the Mullah Nazir Group fought with the Islamic Jihad Group in 2007 and 2008.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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