Peshawar: Pakistani security forces have killed a Taliban commander who allegedly facilitated the Peshawar school massacre, which left 150 people dead in the country's worst ever terror attack, officials said. Named only as “Saddam“, the militant was killed on last Thursday night in a gunfight with security forces in the restive Khyber tribal area, which borders the northwestern city of Peshawar where last week's horrific attack took place.
“Commander Saddam was a dreaded terrorist, who was killed in an exchange of fire with the security forces in Jamrud town of Khyber tribal region,” local administration official Shahab Ali Shah said in Peshawar.
He added that Saddam is believed to have facilitated the school attack, although the extent or capacity of his alleged involvement was not known.“Authorities are currently interrogating the injured terrorists,” Shah said. He described Saddam as an important commander in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Saddam and his accomplices had been involved in recent attacks on forces that had resulted in heavy casualties, Shah said.
Analysts said his killing was a major setback to the Tehrik-e-Taliban alliance because Saddam was one its few commanders still mounting regular attacks on the country’s government and military.
The deliberate targeting of children by seven Taliban gunmen was greeted with horror throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan where both Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders denounced it as "un-Islamic”.
Since then the government has ended its moratorium on capital punishment and executed six convicted terrorists as part of a renewed campaign against terrorist groups.
It has announced new military courts to fast-track trials of terrorist suspects and new curbs on madrassa seminaries, which have been blamed for encouraging students to join terrorist groups.
The Peshawar school massacre is believed to have been ordered by Umar Mansoor on behalf of Maulana Fazlullah, the Tehrik-e-Taliban’s top leader.
But according to Pakistani officials the planning of the operation was carried out by Saddam, the leader of the umbrella group’s Tariq Gedar faction.
He was also said to be the mastermind behind the 2013 attack on a team of polio immunization workers in which 11 security personnl were killed and an attack which killed eight government paramilitary Scouts and several tribal elders.
Brigadier (retired) Mahmood Shah, a former head of security in the lawless tribal areas, said that Saddam’s death was a serious blow to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan when it was already facing an Army onslaught.
“Saddam, a commander of the Darra Adam Khel chapter of the TTP was a significant man because he had been fighting the security forces at a time when most Taliban have gone into hibernation”, he said.
Jan had attacked Army personnel and members of the Lashkar Islam militant group which opposes the Taliban, he added.