According to Taliban sources, Afghan security forces killed a high-ranking leader of the Pakistani Taliban and at least 10 other activists in an operation on the border with Pakistan on Sunday. Raees Khan, also known as Azam Khan Tariq, was considered the fourth most important leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and had a 20 million rupees (about €170,000) bounty on his head.
A pro-Tariq leader who did not want to reveal his identity to French press said that “I can confirm that Azam Tariq, in addition to at least 10 other militants from the Pakistani Taliban were killed in the province of Paktika”, south eastern Afghanistan. The nature of the operation was unclear, but three Taliban sources said that Tariq and his supporters were killed in the Afghan region of Laman which is close to South Waziristan, Pakistan. Furthermore, a source within the movement told Pajhwok Afghan News agency that Afghan special forces in the Paktika province killed Azam Tariq, the former spokesman of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban. Tariq later joined the militant group Mehsud led by Khan Sayid. The spokesman for the group confirmed that Azam and his son had been killed.
Tariq was the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban between 2009 and 2013 and was an ally of the former leader of the movement Hakimullah Mehsud who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2013. At the time of his death, Tariq was a spokesman for the Mehsud wing of the movement. In 2009, Pakistan earmarked a reward of more than €4 million for information that could lead to the arrest of leaders of the Pakistani Taliban. Tariq became the most wanted man after three other leaders were killed in US strikes or Pakistani military operations.
Pakistan is demanding that Kabul hand over the leader of the Pakistani Taliban Maulana Fazlullah who is in hiding, most likely in eastern Afghanistan. The two countries have been accusing each other of rekindling regional tensions by supporting groups affiliated to the Taliban.