News / Asia

Taliban Killings in Pakistani City May Be Part of Pattern

Quetta, Pakistan mapQuetta, Pakistan map
Quetta, Pakistan map
Quetta, Pakistan map
At least two Afghan Taliban commanders have been killed in recent weeks in the Pakistani city of Quetta, militants and police told Reuters, the latest in what officials across the border in Afghanistan have described as a series of assassinations within the Islamic insurgent group.
The motive for the killings and the number of those killed is unclear, but the deaths could make peace between Afghanistan's government and the rebels more elusive as Western troops prepare to leave the war-torn nation. Afghan officials say several of the victims had been discussing unauthorized peace talks with the government in Kabul.
Officially, the Taliban has denied any such spate of deaths.
“Now the enemy is facing defeat they have turned to baseless propaganda and they call anyone who gets killed a member of the Taliban council or Mullah Mohammad Omar's close confidante,” a Taliban statement said on Friday, referring to the movement's reclusive one-eyed leader.
However, four members of the Afghan Taliban told Reuters last week that the insurgency had killed some of its own commanders because the men were involved in unauthorized talks.
One Quetta-based commander put the figure at 18 such deaths since the beginning of last year.
Quetta is about 80 km from the Afghanistan border and is known as a place of refuge for the Afghan Taliban in the winter months. Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of supporting the insurgents and giving them sanctuary, a charge which Islamabad has denied.
Both the Taliban and Quetta police say that gunmen shot Noorullah Hottak two weeks ago. Hottak was a member of the Afghan Taliban's 12-man governing body, named the Quetta shura, said Afghan intelligence officials and a Taliban commander.
But the official Taliban statement acknowledging his death denied that, calling him a “former” warrior.
Last month, gunmen killed Mullah Abdul Malek, another Taliban figure, said a Quetta-based Taliban commander and an Afghan intelligence official.
The Taliban denied his death, and the deaths of two other commanders, in their statement.
“These commanders are alive and busy with their jihad tasks,” said the statement.
Around a dozen Taliban members of varying ranks were killed in Quetta in last year's winter, said Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of Afghanistan's intelligence service.
Nabil said he had investigated the killings and the victims had all sought unauthorized peace talks.
“All 12 had been speaking to the president's negotiators, either directly or through provincial governors or tribal elders,” he said.
Since the killings started up again last month, a senior Afghan official blamed the killings on Pakistani officials, saying they feared losing influence over commanders who started peace talks.
“Pakistan thinks if we're making progress with these (Taliban leaders), that might break their hold on them,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
Pakistani officials say they have no idea who is behind the killings.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs