Fierce clashes between the Haqqani network and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan left at least eight people dead in North Waziristan Agency, local sources said on Thursday.
“The Taliban attacked Malik Karim Khan’s tribe late Wednesday night. The tribe resisted the attack, leading to crossfire,” a local resident said, requesting anonymity.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the clash started in the early hours of Thursday and intensified after the deaths of TTP commander Jehanzeb Khan and Haqqani commander Qadir Haqqani.
The clashes erupted in the Malik Shadam Khan area of the agency’s Speen Waam sub-district, which shares a border with Afghanistan. Six people, including a woman, were killed by members of the Haqqani network in the primary clash. In retaliation, two Haqqani network men were killed and several houses in the area suffered damage due to the use of heavy weaponry.
According to an official of the Mirali political administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity, a local tribal elder Gulbuddin was killed in the clash. Gulbuddin was among those tribesmen who were trying to broker a ceasefire between the two parties.
The group continued fighting at the time of filing this report. Sources said the TTP was led by Sattar, who was nominated commander after his cousin Jehanzeb’s death. The Haqqani network, they said, is being commandeered by a man named Sangeen.
They said that residents have begun fleeing the area, where both groups have taken positions against each other. Tribal elders and religious clerics are making efforts to broker a ceasefire between the warring groups.
There was no estimate of how many fighters were involved, but sources said the number runs in the hundreds for both groups.
The clashes have a history. Two years ago, a son of Malik Karim Khan had gone missing and the tribe suspected that he was kidnapped by local Taliban militants. The tribe then abducted two people, believed to be associated with the Taliban. Karim Khan’s son was released but killed within days of being freed, leading to renewed suspicion.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a senior Taliban commander, had asked the people of North Waziristan to rise up against all forces that were using the agency’s soil for their own motives. He had asked the people of the “South”, a clear reference to the TTP which mostly consists of the Mehsud tribesmen, to respect their land and property. The statement was made through a pamphlet distributed in Mir Ali, two days after the Bannu jailbreak, for which the TTP claimed responsibility.