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Pakistani Taliban Investigates Killing Of Banned Group's Former Spokesman

Pakistan conducted a massive anti-Taliban operation in June 2014, but locals say the militants have slowly returned.

The banned Islamist group Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) says it is investigating the killing of its former spokesman, who was previously among the central leaders of the group.

A statement issued by the TTP said the group is investigating the death of Muhammad Ali Balti, also known as Mufti Khalid Balti.

The TTP, in a short Urdu-language statement on January 10, said Balti was a former spokesman of the TTP but did not hold any prominent position in the group's hierarchy at the time of his death.

The statement also rejected earlier reports attributed to unidentified Pakistani intelligence officials who said the man killed was the current spokesman for the TTP, Muhammad Khorasani.

Balti, a non-Pashtun Taliban leader, was arrested by the Afghan authorities more than three years ago and imprisoned in Kabul.

He was freed following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. Since then, he lived in the Nangarhar and Kunar region, where most of the Pakistani Taliban members are believed to be hiding.

A local source in the region told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that Balti had gone missing two days before his body was found.

The killing came at a time when the TTP has increased its attacks in Pakistan. A monthlong cease-fire with Pakistan ended on December 9 and since then the TTP has resumed attacks on Pakistani security forces.

Pakistan conducted a massive anti-Taliban operation in June 2014.

Officials claimed they successfully pushed the Taliban into Afghanistan from the tribal region. However, locals say the TTP has staged a gradual comeback in the area by increasing their attacks.