Peshawar, Dec 26: Pakistani security forces have killed a key Taliban commander, named as “Saddam”, for allegedly facilitating the Peshawar school massacre, which left 150 people dead in the worst ever terror attack on December 16.
Officials reportedly said that the militant, named only as “Saddam”, was killed on Thursday night in a gunfight with security forces in the restive Khyber tribal area, which borders the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday, top local administration official Shahab Ali Shah said: “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.”
The official said: “Saddam had been killed in the Gundi area of Jamrud by the security forces in an operation yesterday. One of his accomplices has been captured alive.”
Shah described Saddam as an important commander in the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and said he had masterminded several bomb attacks.
Saddam and his accomplices had reportedly been involved in several recent attacks on security forces that had resulted in heavy casualties.
The Taliban and other militants have taken refuge in Khyber from a major army offensive launched in June in North Waziristan, another restive tribal area on the Afghan border that has been a hub for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since the early 2000s.
Meanwhile, a US drone strike on a Taliban compound in North Waziristan killed at least four militants on Friday, officials said, the second such incident in a week.
The Pakistani military reportedly stated to have killed more than 1,700 militants so far in its heavy offensive in the tribal zone, with 126 soldiers having lost their lives.
Pakistan has ramped up its anti-terror strategy in the wake of the December 16 slaughter at the army-run school in Peshawar.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the establishment of military courts for terror-related cases in order to accelerate trials, and he has also lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases.
Pakistan reportedly plans to execute around 500 militants in the coming weeks.
(With Agency Inputs)