PESHAWAR: A former spokesman of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and prominent militant leader, Mohammad Khalid Balti aka Mohammad Khalid Khorrasani, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Monday, according to sources in the Pakistani Taliban.
Talking to The News on condition of anonymity, two senior Pakistani Taliban commanders said that Mohammad Khalid Khorrasani was shot dead by trained shooters on head. The Taliban commanders said it seemed the shooters of Khorrasani took his photo and circulated to media.
The TTP present spokesman Mohammad Khorrasani said they were collecting information about reports related to the killing of their former spokesman and will share with the media.
Khalid Balti belonged to Gilgit-Baltistan and joined the TTP and shifted to Miranshah, North Waziristan. He was then made the TTP spokesman after Shahidullah Shahid quit the militant organisation along with five other Taliban leaders and joined the Islamic State or Daesh in Afghanistan.
Khurrasani then shifted to Afghanistan along many other TTP fighters after the Pakistan army launched a massive military offensive “Zarb-e-Azb” against all the militant organisations in North Waziristan tribal district on June 15, 2014. He however continued to work as a spokesman of the banned TTP in Afghanistan and claimed responsibility for several devastating attacks in Pakistan.
Some of the major attacks that he claimed in Pakistan included the ruthless killing of innocent school children and their teachers in the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, bloodiest attack of suicide bombers on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, and two other terrorist attacks on Kamra airbase and Karachi airport.
It was in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province where the Afghan security forces of the previous Dr Ashraf Ghani government had captured Mohammad Khorrasani and sent him to the Bagram jail.
He however got released along with thousands of other Taliban prisoners when the Afghan Taliban took over Afghanistan and broke all the prisons in the country and set free all prisoners.
The Taliban later regretted their decision of breaking the jails and releasing all the prisoners as they included members of the Islamic State. After their release from jails, members of the Islamic State started attacks on the Afghan Taliban.
According to the members of the Pakistani Taliban, after his dramatic release from jail, Khalid Balti remained silent and waited if he can be reinstated in his previous position. It didn’t happen as the Taliban had already a spokesman, using same name Mohammad Khorrasani.
Taliban sources said Khalid Balti was no longer their spokesperson. Also, they claimed he was not active in militant activities after his release from jail.