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TTP commander Ehsan Mehsud killed in exchange of fire with security forces
  • [DAILYTIMES.PK] South Waziristan: Security forces conduct grand operation in Shaktoi.

  • Raid on closed house during operation, Taliban fighters opened fire from inside.

  • Ehsan Mehsud alias Sanday Ehsan, a key TTP commander wanted by the government in an exchange of fire, was killed while one was arrested.

  • Taliban commander Sindh Ehsan is from banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but Taliban have not confirmed his death, sources said.


Govt making efforts to arrest Ehsanullah Ehsan: Ijaz Shah
[The News (Pak)] Interior Minister Ijaz Shah Saturday said the government was making efforts to apprehend the former spokesperson of the Tehrik-e-Taliban
...the Pashtun equivalent of men...
Pakistain (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) who beat feet from the state's custody a few weeks ago.

The interior minister was speaking to media after a tree plantation ceremony at the District Commissioner's office. Talking about Ehsanullah Ehsan
...formerly the front man for the Pak Taliban, then the lips and tongue of the Jamaatul Ahrar splinter group in Mohmand Agency...
's escape from custody, he said that efforts were being made to arrest him.

Last week, Shah admitted for the first time that the ex-TTP spokesperson had escaped the state's custody after an audio message of the holy warrior stating the same started doing the rounds on social media.

Ijaz Shah: 2020-02-18 News of Ehsanullah Ehsan's escape is 'true', state is aware, says Interior Minister Ijaz Shah
Ijaz Shah: 2019-07-22 Hafiz Saeed’s arrest
Ijaz Shah: 2019-07-02 Benazir murder charge ‘politically motivated’: Ijaz Shah
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: 2017-09-06 Taliban commander who attacked Malala Yousafzai killed
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: 2017-04-09 Pak Kops kills 10 Taliban gunnies in Lahore
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: 2017-02-08 2 kops wounded in suicide attack in Bannu
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar: 2019-05-26 More about ISIS in India and Pakistan
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar: 2018-02-03 Pakistan will not allow its land to be used against neighbours: FO
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Jamaat-ul-Ahrar: 2018-01-16 Terror outfit's spokesperson surrenders to security forces
Ehsanullah Ehsan: 2020-02-18 News of Ehsanullah Ehsan's escape is 'true', state is aware, says Interior Minister Ijaz Shah
Ehsanullah Ehsan: 2020-02-14 Families of APS martyrs approach CJP over Ehsanullah Ehsan's reported escape
Ehsanullah Ehsan: 2020-02-13 Families of APS martyrs demand govt to explain Ehsanullah Ehsan's mysterious escape

Pakistan arrests ‘last terrorist at large' in Daniel Pearl killing
[JPost] Terrorist also suspect in assassination attempt against former president Musharraf.

Counterterrorism officials in Islamabad have confirmed that the remaining terrorist sought in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl has been taken into custody. Azim Jan, a commander of the TTP, the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, an off-shoot of al-Qaeda, was apprehended on Friday in a joint operation headed by Pakistan Security Forces.

The mission was conducted in the hilly area of Mansehra, a district in the Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa Province, located about 100 miles north of the capital Islamabad.

Azim Jan was the final fugitive of the group that was involved in the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl. A senior official speaking to The Media Line on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said Jan was the master trainer of suicide bombers and that he was running a militant training camp in the area of Pakistan-Afghani border when he was arrested.
Oh? Did they get the rest of ‘em, too?
Daniel Pearl was the South Asian bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped and beheaded by a self-proclaimed Islamist group in the southern city of Karachi in 2002. Counter-terrorism official Behram Khan told The Media Line that Jan is known as a deadly expert in improvised explosive devices. In addition to being the primary suspect in the Pearl murder, the "commander" built his reputation orchestrating the planned assassination of then-president General Pervez Musharraf in that year, the murder of Sind police superintendent Chaudhry Aslam, and an attack on the staff of the French Embassy in Karachi.

Jan is also the lead suspect in an attack on the Peshawar Bus Terminal and multiple murders of police officials. Intelligence official Junaid ul-Hassan told The Media Line that Jan is also accused in the 2011 terrorist attack on Pakistan's Mehran Naval Air Base, and an attack on a security checkpost in Quetta's Hazar Ganji area that killed more than 150 members of the Hazara Shia community.
Despite all that, this is his first appearance in the Rantburg archives.

Taliban commander who attacked Malala Yousafzai killed
Pakistani police counter-terrorism officers on Monday killed four terrorists including a commander of the banned group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who was involved in the 2012 attack on the child rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai.

All four militants were killed in a police shootout, conducted at the Southern port of city of Karachi, police officials confirmed.

A man identified as Khursheed – a cousin of the current TTP chief Mullah Fazalullah – was identified among the dead. He was linked to various terrorist attacks on security personnel as well as the attack on Malala.

Malala was attacked and shot at close range by the gunmen in October 2012, as she left school in the Swat Valley.

Days after the attack, Pakistan's Taliban described Malala as a "spy of the West." "For this espionage, infidels gave her awards and rewards. And Islam orders killing of those who are spying for enemies," the group said in a statement.

In June 2015, a Pakistani court in the northwestern province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa freed eight out of the 10 militants charged with the shooting of Malala. That move however, raised serious questions about the country's criticized judicial system.

Pak Kops kills 10 Taliban gunnies in Lahore
Pakistani police killed 10 Taliban gunmen in an early morning shootout Saturday in Lahore, officials said, with several militants tied to a February bombing in the eastern city dying in the skirmish.

The gunfight erupted as authorities were escorting five members from the Pakistani Taliban to an arms cache when they were ambushed by gunmen aiming to free the group, said a spokesman with Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department.

“Ten terrorists from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar were killed during an operation with the Counter Terrorism Department in Punjab including the accused handler of the February 13 Lahore blast,” said the official, referring to a Pakistani Taliban faction.

According to the spokesman the fire fight ensued for half an hour with at least 10 gunmen killed.

The skirmish comes days after seven people were killed and 19 wounded during a Taliban suicide attack targeting a census team in the city.

Lahore has been on edge since a wave of violent attacks across Pakistan in February killed 130 people and shook citizens emboldened by growing security.

The attacks included a bomb blast in the eastern city on February 13 which killed 14 people in an assault claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction.

Ten days later a fresh blast sent panic through the city when it killed eight people, though officials later said it was a gas leak, not an attack as initially feared.

The renewed violence has dented optimism after the country appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half long war on militancy, with analysts speaking of a militant resurgence.

2 kops wounded in suicide attack in Bannu
Two policemen have been injured in an attack on a police station in Bannu, KP according to the police.

An explosives-laden vehicle crashed at the gate of Mandan Police Station causing an explosion, said DPO Bannu Fazal Hamid.

In the attack two police personnels at the gate were injured and the gate was damaged. According to the DPO, “the militant who hit the vehicle in the gate has died. He was around 21 years old.” Meanwhile, two militant outfits, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda Bar-e-Saghir have taken responsibility of the attack.

The injured were shifted to DHQ hospital.

12 militants die in Khyber airstrikes
KHYBER AGENCY - At least 12 suspected militants were killed and several others injured in airstrikes carried out by PAF jet fighters in Rajgal in the Koki Khel area of Jamrud in Khyber Agency on Sunday.

Official sources said that the fighter planes targeted hideouts of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Bara-based defunct outfit Laskar-e-Islam.

Resultantly, 12 suspected militants were killed and several others sustained injuries. The casualties could be confirmed independently due to the area being inaccessible to the media.

In 2014, the army launched a major operation in other parts of FATA including North and South Waziristan against insurgents who routinely attacked government officials and civilians.

Few days back, four heavily-armed suicide bombers attacked a military facility in Mohmand Agency and killed two soldiers, but failed to storm a busy mosque inside. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA), claimed responsibility for the attack on Ghalani Camp in Mohmand Agency.

Two of the attackers were shot dead and two detonated their explosive vests, preventing a "huge disaster", the army said.

Seven Pakistani extremists killed in police shootout
[AlArabiya] Seven Islamist extremists were killed in a shootout in Pakistan's wealthy Punjab province as police raided the group suspected of launching attacks on security posts, officials said Sunday.

Gunfire erupted between police and 10 suspected militants early Sunday morning in a house where the group was holed up.

Police said the seven dead were killed by bullets from their own men.

“When the firing stopped, seven terrorists were found dead by the firing of their own accomplices and the remaining escaped in the darkness of the night,” a police statement said.

The shootout occurred in Pakistan's central Punjab province about 56 kilometers (35 miles) west of Lahore.

Police said the Islamists belonged to the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

They were accused of planning attacks on security posts and law enforcement agencies in Punjab.

Rights activists have blamed Pakistani police for staging raids to kill suspects they fear could be freed if tried in a court.

Pakistan launched a countrywide campaign against militancy called the National Action Plan in 2015 after a deadly Taliban attack on a Peshawar school killed more than 150 people, mostly children.

The Sunni LeJ group has claimed responsibility for some of the most brazen attacks on Shiites in Pakistan's recent history, including a January 2013 bombing in Quetta that killed over one hundred members of the Shiite Hazara minority group.

Sectarian violence – in particular that carried out by Sunni militants against Shiites, who make up roughly 20 percent of Pakistan's population of 200 million – has claimed thousands of lives in the country over the past decade.

US blacklists two ‘Pakistan-based’ terrorist groups
[GEO.TV] The United States on Wednesday designated two ‘Pakistan-based’ groups with links to the Taliban as global terrorist threats.

A statement issued by US State Department said that as ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists,’ US citizens are forbidden from associating with the Tariq Gidar Group (TGG) and the Jamaat ul Dawa al-Qu’ran (JDQ).

It said any assets owned by the groups in places under US jurisdiction will be frozen, and US law enforcement will be authorised to investigate their activity. The State Department claimed that the TGG is linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and is based in Darra Adam Khel.

According to the statement, the Gidar group was responsible for the attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar that killed over 150 people mostly children. The group is led by Umar Mansoor, who is said to also have ordered the January 2016 attack on a university in Charsadda that left more than 20 dead.

US State Department also said the TGG was behind the 2008 kidnapping and beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak in Attock.

The second group, the JDQ, is said to be based in Peshawar but has sworn allegiance to the late leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar. The JDQ also has alliances with Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the statement added.

The group has also been blamed for the 2010 kidnapping of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. Norgrove died after being wounded in the explosion of a grenade thrown by a US Navy SEAL commando during a failed rescue attempt.

NATO Finds Militants Operating in 20 Afghan Provinces
Helpful graphic at the link
A recent NATO assessment on the security situation in Afghanistan reveals that foreign and domestic militants are operating in at least 20 provinces across the nation.

NATO's findings show that 15 Afghan provinces are presently under Taliban threat, while foreign terrorists, who apparently enjoy ties with Daesh, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda militants and Harakat-e-Islami Uzbekistan militants, are trying to gain footholds in certain areas across the country, a move NATO believes could raise the scale of threats.

This assessment comes ahead of the alliance's Warsaw Summit in July.

NATO said the assessment was aimed at highlighting certain regions of the country which are under threat.

According to the organization, southern Helmand province is still one of the Taliban's major strongholds while there is now a wider Taliban presence in central regions.

Meanwhile, a number of Afghan political commentators and MPs have expressed deep concerns over the increased level of threats in the country, calling on government to target the militants resolutely.

"Right now in Uruzgan province, the Taliban have more developed and modern weapons than the weapons available to Afghan National Army and National Police, the Taliban militants are even equipped with night vision equipment," an MP from Urozgan Obaidullah Barakzai said.

Amid speculation over increased activities of foreign militants in Afghanistan, there are rumors that they are also trying to establish training camps and larger military bases across the country.

A map which has been drawn up by NATO shows that the militants who are apparently associated with al-Qaeda are looking to establish military camps in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Nuristan and Kunar provinces while Daesh is seeking footholds in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar.

Referring to the NATO assessment, meanwhile, some Afghan military experts and political commentators have said that good leadership of the war and continuing the military operations against these groups are key to curbing their activities.

"If we forget the lessons we got from the battlefields during the past year, we will face defeat, therefore we need to move with a firm commitment and complete understanding of the situation to eliminate our enemies," said military expert Atiqullah Amarkhail.

However, it is believed that Uzbekistan-based militant group Harakat-e-Islami Uzbekistan has tried to infiltrate some northern provinces such as Farah, Badghis and Zabul as its affiliates are already conducting terror activities in various regions.

"We have noticed on several occasions that in Badakhshan province, Chechen, Uighur, Uzbek and Tajik militants are conducting terrorist activities. Therefore we call on the government to take firm action against these groups and launch clearance operations against them in Badakhshan," an MP from Badakhshan Safiullah Muslim said.

Concerns have been heightened over a possible surge in security threats in Afghanistan in recent months, but the Ministry of Interior (MoI) says that the terrorists which operate in Afghanistan are funded from across the Durand Line.

The assessment however shows that the Haqqani terror network and fighters apparently from Hizb-e-Islami are also posing threats in the eastern regions. This however, comes as the group holds direct talks with the Afghan government to seal a final agreement on peace.
Video report at the link

Army colonel shot dead in Peshawar
PESHAWAR: A lieutenant colonel of Pakistan Army was shot dead by unidentified assailants near Ring Road, Hayatabad, on Friday.

SP Peshawar Cantt Kashif Zulfiqar said Lt Col Tariq Ghafoor, a resident of Hayatabad Phase VI area, was on his way to a nearby mosque to offer Friday prayers when he was targeted. SP Kashif further said that the attack might be the result of a personal enmity. Spokesperson for the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group, Muhammad Khorasani, claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to journalists.
That sounds like they're identified...
Ghafoor was posted in Peshawar and was undergoing postgraduate studies at a government university, said a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Confirming the incident, SSP city said the officer of senior rank received two bullets in the head and succumbed to his injuries on the spot.

The deceased was the son of Maj Gen (r) Fazal Ghafoor, who also served as Frontier Corps inspector general between 1994-1997 and later as a diplomat, after retiring from military service. Hayatabad is a posh suburb of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Peshawar on the south-western fringe of the city. Pakistan Army also confirmed the killing. “Lt Col Tariq Ghafoor embraced martyrdom due to firing by unidentified assailant after Friday prayers near Sarband Ring Road, Peshawar,” the ISPR said in a statement. “The officer was posted at Peshawar and was undergoing post graduate studies at a government university.” On Thursday, a Frontier Corps official was found dead inside his vehicle in Jharga village of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, within the jurisdiction area of Chamkani Police Station.

Okay given for final push in Shawal
RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has given the go-ahead for the initiation of the final phase of operation Zarb-e-Azb in the Shawal valley region of North Waziristan.

The go-ahead was given by the army chief during his visit to forward positions of the army in Shawal valley. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated that the army chief was briefed regarding operational gains and impending operations. The deep and forested ravines of Shawal valley and the area of Data Khel are frequently used infiltration routes used by the militants, the army chief was told. The last phase of the operation aims to clear the last remnants of the militants from their hideouts in the forested ravines, isolate them and destroy them in detail, while also severing their links to their abettors across the country.

General Raheel Sharif expressed complete satisfaction over the gains and the effects of the operations and acknowledged the resolve of the army troops to fully eliminate the militants. “The sacrifices of the soldiers will not go waste and we will achieve our ultimate objective of a terror free Pakistan,” said Sharif while addressing the troops. ISPR added that the troops have regrouped, reinforced and have moved to jump-off positions for the final phase. The chief of army staff was received by Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman, Commander 11 Corps Peshawar on his arrival.

Military operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan on June 15 following a brazen militant attack on Karachi’s international airport and the failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators. The number of attacks in Pakistan has fallen around 70 percent, due to a combination of the military offensive against Taliban bases along the Afghan border and government initiatives to tackle militancy. Army had launched a ground offensive in Shawal Valley in August last year. Fighter jets had been targeting militant hideouts in the agency. The heavily forested ravines of the Shawal Valley are dotted with Taliban hideouts and the area is a key smuggling route into neighbouring Afghanistan.

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