Pakistani military dealt a crippling blow to Tehreek-e-Taliban by killing its three top commanders, including group's deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, in Mohmand tribal region in the country's northwest, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday.
Two more prominent commanders Qari Ziaur Rehman, an Afghan national and Fateh Muhammad, a close aide of Taliban chief in Swat Fazlullah, were also killed in air strikes carried out in the region yesterday which resulted in deaths of 30 militants, Malik confirmed.
Maulvi Faqir had named himself chief of Pakistani Taliban following the killing of Baitullah Mehsud. He has publicly stated his close ties to al-Qaeda no 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The Taliban leaders were killed when helicopters gunship of the Pakistan military targeted their hideouts in Pandiali area of Mohmand Agency. Security forces retrieve the body of Fateh Muhammad while the bodies of the others are yet to be recovered, Malik said.
Faqir Muhammad, who was originally based in Bajaur tribal region, moved to Mohmand Agency after security forces cleared most parts of Bajaur Agency.
Ziaur Rehman was believed to be the head of the Taliban in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan and the US had offered a reward of USD 350,000 for him.