* Taliban suspect involvement of Afghan intelligence in attack on Maulvi Daud
ISLAMABAD: Unidentified gunmen Friday shot dead a senior Afghan Taliban leader near Peshawar, Taliban officials said.
The gunmen sprayed bullets at the car of Maulvi Daud – a former Taliban governor for Kabul – near Shamshato refugees’ camp late Thursday, a Taliban official told Daily Times. Daud’s driver was also killed in the attack, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, a Taliban leader blamed the Afghan intelligence for assassination. “Agents of Afghan intelligence might have carried out the target attack,” a Taliban leader, requesting anonymity, said.
Days earlier a close aide of Daud was also killed in the same area.
Sources from a Taliban splinter group – Fidaye Mahaz – said that the killing of Daud could be the result of “infighting”, a claim rejected by the Taliban leaders.
There are speculations of the Islamic State (IS) involvement in the incident, as both the Taliban and IS supporters had been involved in fighting in parts of Afghanistan.
“Maulvi Daud was a famous Taliban personality who was living as a refugee in Pakistan,” a Taliban leader said.
Thousands attended his funeral in Azakhel area near Nowshera Friday afternoon, an Afghan national, who attended the funeral said.
The slain Taliban leader was among dozens of Afghan leaders, who had previously been detained in Pakistan, and were freed on the request by former Afghan president Hamid Karzai during 2013-14. However, none of the freed Taliban had joined the peace process during Karzai’s regime.
Maulvi Daud is not the first Afghan Taliban leader, who has been killed in Peshawar. Earlier in June 2015, Maulvi Mir Ahmad Gul Hashmi, a Taliban shadow governor for eastern Nangarhar province, was killed in Peshawar. A former Taliban minister, Abdul Raqeeb, was also killed in Peshawar in February 2014 apparently for joining the peace process with the Kabul government.
Taliban launch ‘spring offensive’: The Afghan Taliban Friday announced to launch much-anticipated “spring offensive” that marks the formal beginning of their annual fighting season.
The Taliban announcement could be seen a serious blow to the recent diplomatic efforts by Russia and other regional countries to press for the political process.
The Taliban leadership said in a statement that they would step up attacks during the “Operation Mansouri” named after Mullah Akhtar Mansour, a slain Taliban leader, who was killed in an American drone strike on May 21, 2016.