KHAR/PESHAWAR: A senior Pakistani Taliban commander, Maulvi Dadullah, has been killed in a US drone attack along with 12 other fighters at Sheegal Darra in Kunar province of Afghanistan on Friday night, Taliban sources said.
“Someone had planted a chip, usually used for spying on the mujahideen, near his compound that helped the drone track him down. Maulvi Dadullah and his 12 bodyguards, including his deputy commander Abdul Rahman, were killed in the attack,” said a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, who belongs to Bajaur tribal region and is based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
Pleading anonymity, he said the drone fired four missiles and struck the compound where Dadullah and his men were staying.
Maulvi Jamal Said alias Maulvi Dadullah, in his 40s, was the Taliban chief for the troubled Bajaur region bordering Afghanistan. He hailed from Damadola village in the Mamond tehsil of Bajaur.
Taliban sources said the body of Maulvi Dadullah and those killed with him in the missile strike were disfigured.
Dadullah had replaced Maulvi Faqir Mohammad as the Taliban chief in Bajaur in March after Maulvi Faqir told journalists that he was holding peace talks with the Pakistani government following the latter’s decision to release some of his men as a goodwill gesture.
The Taliban leadership denied peace negotiations with the government and removed Maulvi Faqir from his position as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) head in Bajaur.
Meanwhile, the Hakimullah Mahsud-led TTP has confirmed Dadullah’s death in the drone attack in Kunar and termed it as a “serious loss to their militant network.”
“It is unfortunate to announce that we have lost one of our senior and committed commanders, Maulvi Dadullah, in a drone attack in Kunar province. His death is a serious loss to us but he will always live in our hearts due to the sacrifices he rendered for the implementation of Sharia in Pakistan,” TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told The News from an undisclosed location on Saturday.
He said another senior commander, Maulvi Abu Bakar, 45, of Bajaur had been nominated as acting leader in place of Dadullah.
“Our Shura will hold its meeting soon to nominate a permanent ameer for Bajaur. Until then Maulvi Abu Bakar will lead the Taliban in Bajaur,” the TTP spokesman said.
Before becoming a militant, Dadullah reportedly ran a shop selling salt in a market of Inayat Killay in Bajaur.
He joined the Taliban network in Bajaur in 2006 and was said to be close to Arab fighters when they came there after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as a result of the US invasion. Maulvi Faqir at the time appointed Dadullah as the chief of the Amr Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) in Bajaur.
He reportedly participated in fighting Pakistani security forces in Loisam in August 2008. It took almost four months for the Pakistani troops to take control of Loisam from the Taliban and Arab fighters.
Security officials blamed him for a series of attacks in the Salarzai and Mamond subdivisions of Bajaur. Taliban sources said Dadullah had cordial relations with TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud and was against peace talks with the government.
The Pakistani Taliban in Bajaur and Swat were forced to take refuge in Afghanistan in Kunar and Nuristan provinces after Pakistani security forces launched military operations against them in 2008 and 2009. They later started attacks on Pakistani security forces and government installations from across the border in Afghanistan.
Both Taliban and government officials in Pakistan said it was the first time that the Pakistani Taliban were attacked by US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. Dadullah also was the first known and senior Pakistani Taliban commander to die in Afghanistan.
The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in a statement from Kabul earlier said Dadullah was killed along with his men in an airstrike in Kunar. It blamed him for launching attacks on Afghan and coalition forces and for moving fighters and weapons in the area. Kunar province Governor Fazlullah Wahidi earlier said Dadullah and his men were killed in the airstrike in Sholtan area in Sheegal district.