- The Pakistani Taliban say their deputy commander held unapproved talks
- They have removed him from his post and demoted him to the rank of regular fighter
- The Islamist group has attacked both military and civilian targets
The Pakistani Taliban has removed its second in command from his post and demoted him to the rank of regular fighter, a spokesman said late Monday, accusing him of holding unauthorized talks with the Pakistani government.
A meeting of nine senior Pakistani Taliban members on Friday approved the removal of the deputy commander, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, said Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the organization.
The decision to relieve Faqir of his duties followed a written demand from the group's leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, Ihsan said.
Faqir had been speaking to the Pakistan government without Mehsud's approval, Ihsan said. The spokesman did not disclose what the substance of those discussions had been.
Efforts to reach Faqir for comment were unsuccessful.
The Pakistani Taliban, founded by Baitullah Mehsud in 2007, are a banned Islamist group active in Pakistan's tribal areas. They are said to have links with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.
Since its inception, the group has carried out attacks on military forces and installations, as well as on civilian targets in the region.
Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone strike in 2009.
Ihsan denied that the move to demote Faqir was a sign of weakness in the organization. He insisted that the Pakistani Taliban had never been stronger.