Khalid Balti alias Mohammad Khurasani, a top leader of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was shot in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province on Monday, according to a senior security official.
The circumstances behind the assassination remained unclear.
Balti, who is roughly 50 years old, was also the outlawed outfit’s spokesperson and was involved in multiple attacks on Pakistan’s population and security forces, according to the official.
Since the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan, he (Balti) had been visiting Kabul often, according to the official.
Balti has been working with TTP commander Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud to unite various TTP groups and organize terrorist strikes, according to the officer, who added that he had lately hinted at carrying out terrorist activities within Pakistan.
However, an Afghan government spokesperson disputed the assassination of the top TTP member, claiming that no such occurrence had occurred.
“These reports are unconfirmed by me. They aren’t correct. On this (Afghan) side, no such occurrence has occurred “When questioned about Balti’s death, Afghan government spokesman Bilal Karimi informed Dawn News.
Balti, a Gilgit-Baltistan native, had served as an operational commander for the TTP for several years.
He joined the proscribed Tehreek Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi in Swat in 2007 and had strong connections with Mullah Fazlullah, the TTP’s previous chief. Officials stated Balti had cordial and tight relationships with TTP members at all levels, and that he played a key part in the TTP’s propaganda effort.
Balti, according to officials, managed a terrorist base in Miranshah, Khyber Pakthunkhwa, and fled to Afghanistan during Operation Zarb-i-Azab. He was the chairman of the TTP media committee in 2014.
According to a former TTP member who was aware of Balti’s actions, he was detained by Afghan troops in Nangarhar in 2015 and held at Bagram and Pul-i-Charkhi jails offensive.
Balti and other TTP members were released last August when the Afghan Taliban used captives as bargaining chips during their military onslaught.
He was also the one who claimed the 2014 terrorist assault on the Army Public School in Peshawar to the Pakistani and Afghan media.