Accessibility links

Breaking News

15 Killed As Taliban Attacks Rival Commander's Home

Men carry a bombing victim into a hospital following an attack on the home of militant commander Mullah Nabi Hanafi in northwestern Pakistan.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Members of the Pakistani Taliban have attacked the home of rival militant commander Mullah Nabi Hanafi in northwestern Pakistan, with at least 15 persons killed in the battle.

Pakistani security sources say Hanafi was among 10 wounded persons taken to a hospital. Residents of the nearby village of Spin Thal said Hanafi was "safe."

Pakistani security officials say a suicide bomber from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) rammed a car full of explosives through the main gate into Hanafi's compound.

A witness from the village of Spin Thal, who asked not to be identified, told RFE/RL how the attack began:

"The car was signaled to stop at the checkpoint [near the compound] and when it did not stop, [Hanafi’s fighters] opened fire," the witness said. "The car went inside and there was an explosion inside [Hanafi's] compound."

Once the car bomb was detonated, TTP gunmen launched a follow-up assault. Two more would-be suicide bombers were also involved in the attack. But they reportedly were shot dead by Hanafi's fighters before they detonated their explosives.

Hannafi's compound reportedly was destroyed in the battle. It is located on the border of the North Waziristan and Orakzai tribal agencies and the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Those areas have been hotbeds of Taliban activity for years.

Former TTP Commander

Hanafi had once been a prominent Taliban commander within the TTP, an umbrella organization comprised of several dozen militant Islamist groups. But he broke away from the TTP and formed Pakistani Taliban splinter groups after TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2009.

Since then, Hanafi and his fighters have often battled TTP militants in Orakzai and the Hangu district.

Purported Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid says the TTP carried out the attack because "Hanafi's group was fighting against us together with the Pakistani military."

Pakistani police say they have stepped up security in the region after the battle.

On July 22, Hanafi survived an attack on his compound similar to the most recent assault. Twelve militants were killed in that attack and dozens were injured.

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal-Tariq Orakzai in Hangu, Pakistan, with reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and "Dawn"