At least five persons were killed on Saturday in clashes between supporters of slain Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and a pro-government militant leader in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Fighters owing allegiance to Mehsud, reportedly killed in a recent US drone attack in the tribal areas, attacked an office of the group led by his rival Turkistan Bhitani at Gomal Baaz near Dera Ismail Khan. One member of Bhitani’s group was killed and another injured, reports said.
Bhitani’s men then launched a counter-attack and killed four Taliban fighters. Bhitani heads a "peace committee" that is backed by the government.
The Taliban claimed none of their men were killed or injured in the fighting. However, reports said the Taliban took away their dead and injured from the scene of the clashes.
Security forces also found two locally made bombs in the area that are believed to have been left behind by the Taliban. The Taliban and Bhitani's group have engaged in fierce clashes over the past few days that have left more than 70 people dead.
In another incident in the same area, four bullet-riddled bodies of unidentified tribesmen were found by the roadside. The discovery of the bodies caused panic among local residents, who said they believed the four men were Taliban fighters who were killed by Bhitani's group. Confusion has surrounded the fate of Mehsud, with the government and the Taliban making claims and counter-claims about his death.