Skip to main content

Pakistan Taliban 'master bomber' gunned down amid deadly infighting

By Paul Armstrong , CNN
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
The Pakistani Taliban has been split since the death of leader Hakimullah Mehsud (L) in a 2013 drone strike.
The Pakistani Taliban has been split since the death of leader Hakimullah Mehsud (L) in a 2013 drone strike.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ashiqullah Mehsud was a key figure and trainer of suicide bombers in the group
  • His execution comes amid deadly infighting between factions with Pakistan Taliban
  • No group has claimed responsibility for the attack in the North Waziristan

(CNN) -- A suicide bombing "mastermind" in the Pakistan Taliban has been gunned down and killed in the country's northeastern tribal region, just days after a major faction in the militant group announced it was breaking away over ideological differences.

Gunmen riding in a car attacked Ashiqullah Mehsud, a senior commander in the leadership of the group known formally as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in the village of Urmuz in North Waziristan on Thursday before speeding off, sources told CNN.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, while the TTP has yet to issue a statement.

Mehsud was viewed as a successor to Qari Hussain Mehsud, the militant group's explosives expert whose notoriety includes allegedly recruiting children as suicide bombers.

Deadly infighting

Pakistanis view of talks with Taliban
New Taliban leader tried to kill Malala

Pakistani intelligence sources believe the incident is the result of internal rivalries between TTP factions.

The Pakistan Taliban has been beset with months of deadly infighting, culminating in an announcement early this month by the group's Mehsud faction that it would be going its own way after failing to convince the leadership to give up what it said were "un-Islamic" practices, such as attacks in public places, extortion and kidnappings.

It's the first split since the TTP -- a coalition of militant groups -- was founded in 2007, seeking to establish its version of sharia law across Pakistan.

Tensions within the TTP escalated after the group's leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in November last year, setting off a power struggle among top commanders of the TTP that led to violent clashes in which dozens of people were killed.

Appointed by a tribal council, Mullah Fazlullah has stood at the helm of the TPP since Mehsud's death. He hails from the country's Swat valley and is the first TTP leader who is not a Mehsud. He has struggled to contain the internal frictions among the group's factions, especially those within the Mehsud tribe, which makes up the majority of the TTP.

In a statement released last month, Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the breakaway Mehsuds, said the TTP leadership had "fallen into the hands of a bunch of conspirators ... involved in criminal activities like robbery and extortion."

READ: Will internal split weaken Pakistan Taliban?

READ: Pakistan Taliban say cease-fire with government is over

Zahir Shah Sherazi in Peshawar contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 5:45 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT