A Pakistan Taliban leader and explosives expert was killed Thursday, in an attack thought to be linked to the announcement earlier this week that a faction of the terror group was breaking off.
The terror leader, Ashiqullah Mehsud, was a senior commander in the former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He was killed in a shoot-and-run drive-by attack in the village of Urmuz, in the North Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan, reports CNN.
No group has claimed responsibility and the TTP has yet to respond to the killing, although Pakistani intelligence sources have said the attack likely was due to internal TTP rivalries.
The Pakistan Taliban group has been suffering from internal power struggles since a US drone strike killed its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, last November.
A tribal council appointed Mullah Fazlullah as head of the TTP since Mehsud's death, the first leader not to hail from the Mehsud tribe which constitutes the majority of the terror group.
The Mehsud faction announced this week it was breaking away. Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the faction, stated that TTP leadership had "fallen into the hands of a bunch of conspirators...involved in criminal activities like robbery and extortion." The faction further accused the current leadership of "un-Islamic" practices such as attacks in public places and kidnappings.
The assassinated leader Hakimullah Mehsud had a $5 million bounty placed on his head by the US after appearing in a video with a Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan in 2009. Mehsud was also believed to be behind a failed car bombing in New York's Times Square in 2010, as well as brazen attacks inside Pakistan.
TTP was founded in 2007 to institute and enforce Sharia Islamic law in Pakistan.
The Taliban has also been active in Afghanistan. Just this Saturday the US announced it was releasing five Taliban terrorists in exchange for kidnapped US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a move hailed as a victory by the Afghan Taliban.
Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Arutz Sheva he opposed the deal, saying "I think it's despicable to equate an American service member trained in our doctrine to avoid harming civilians...with five Taliban leaders whose essential strategy is to kill civilians."