ISLAMABAD - Senior TTP commander Ashiqullah Mehsud was shot dead Thursday by unknown gunmen in North Waziristan, according to militant and official sources. He was one of the leading commanders of Fazlullah-led Tehrik-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Ashiqullah, in his late thirties, hailed from Behlolzai clan of Mehsud tribe and was known as expert in suicide bombing. He was killed near his residence in Hormaz village of Mir Ali subdivision in North Waziristan.
"He was near his residence when unidentified armed men opened fire on him; he received multiple injuries and died on the spot,” said well placed sources in Taliban. Two different officials in political administration on the condition of anonymity said that they had 'received confirmed reports about the killing of Ashiqullah Mehsud'.
Ashiqullah indoctrinated youngsters for 'fidayee' attacks and prepared explosive laden vehicles for suicide missions. He and his family migrated to North Waziristan from South Waziristan during the military operation of 2009. He was a close associate and relative of slain militant commander Qari Hussain, the founder of Fidayeen e Islam (FeI) -the Taliban suicide squad, who was killed in a US drone airstrike in October 2010.
"After the death of Qari Hussain in October 2010, for a short period Ashiqullah Mehsud served as the head of FeI and with Hakimullah Mehsud, he remained the incharge of TTP treasury," said a well placed Taliban source.
At a time when Commander Khan Said Sajna's group has parted ways with Mullah Fazlullah-led militant group, the death of Ashiqullah Mehsud is severe blow to the TTP. Commander Shehriyar Mehsud, a lieutenant of Fazlullah, was heavily relying on Ashiqullah in his bids to overthrow Sajna in South Waziristan.
Sources say that Shehriyar Mehsud's men have alleged Sajna Group for killing Ashiqullah and the incident could further fuel fighting between the two Mehsud militant commanders. "We have information about the involvement of Sajna's men; we are further investigating the matter", a commander of Shehriyar Mehsud said.
It is the second incident of its nature that TTP has lost its key commander in target killing in North Waziristan. On February 24, 2014 Commander Asmatullah Shaheen, a member of Taliban central shura who once remained caretaker head of TTP, was targeted in Dargah Mandi area of Ghulam Khan Tehsil in North Waziristan.