Intelligence sources speak of clashes between rival Pakistani militias

Baitullah Mehsud


Exactly one week after Pakistani officials announced the assassination of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, there are unconfirmed reports of serious clashes between rival armed factions in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Canadian sources are quoting unnamed intelligence officials who claim that Mehsud’s Taliban fighters are engaged in an all-out offensive against militia followers of Turkistan Bitani, a tribal warlord backed by the Pakistani government. Bitani spoke to the Associated Press saying that 90 fighters have so far died in the offensive and that at least 40 houses have been destroyed. Bitani claims that the clashes, which are taking place in Jandola, an area adjacent to Mehsud’s South Waziristan stronghold, were initiated by Mehsud’s men. If this is true, then it could cast further doubt on Pakistani and US government reports that Mehsud has been assassinated by a CIA Predator drone strike. However, if Bitani’s forces attacked first, the move could signify the beginnings of a timely offensive by the Pakistani government against the Taliban forces in South Waziristan.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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