The Pakistani Taliban has said that one of its key leaders and his close aide were killed in a clash with security forces in Afghanistan last month.
Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who is believed to be in mid-30s, was considered a top ranking leader of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was killed along with his aide Qari Saifullah Peshawari on January 31 near Kabul, a statement by the SITE monitoring group said on Friday.
The Taliban sources confirmed to various media outlets that Haqqani had been killed during a mission in Afghanistan.
Neither the Afghan nor the Pakistani security forces have so far commented on the reported deaths.
Haqqani was one of those seminary students who joined militancy after the Red Mosque operation in 2007 to dislodge the armed militants from the mosque.
Haqqani was believed to be just 20 and a madrassa student when he moved to the tribal region of Pakistan in 2007 and joined TTP.
He soon grew closer to the group's chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.
Haqqani was also close to the next TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud and remained with him until Mehsud was also killed in a US drone attack in 2013.
Taliban sources said that Haqqani used to instruct the two TTP chiefs about Islamic jurisprudence.
When Mullah Fazlullah was appointed as the third chief of TTP, he kept Haqqani close with him and first appointed him as his deputy.
Later he was appointed as member of central council (shura) and remained on the post until death.
It said that he supported TTP in its fight with Pakistani security forces but was not in favour of attacking hospitals, schools and other public places.
Haqqani was not linked with the Haqqani group of Afghanistan and only shared the nom de guerre used by former students of Darul Uloom Haqqania of late Mualan Samiul Haq who was called as father of jihad and godfather of the Taliban.
Haq was murdered in Rawalpindi in 2018 under mysterious circumstances but his seminary also known as university of jihad located at Akora Khattak area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is still functional.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)