Afghan forces 'kill Pakistan Taliban commander Azam Tariq'

A leading Pakistani Taliban commander has been killed by special forces in eastern Afghanistan, the militants say.

Azam Tariq died in Paktika province, near Pakistan's border. His son and nine others were also reported killed.

Tariq was a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman and part of a breakaway faction after the group split in 2014.

Many Pakistani Taliban now operate from Afghanistan after they were dislodged from strongholds in north-west Pakistan by a military offensive.

Reports say Afghan special forces backed by Nato troops killed Azam Tariq in the Barmal district of Paktika on Saturday night, but it took a day for his death to be confirmed.

Dawn newspaper reported that ground forces were backed by four helicopter gunships and two drones in a gun battle that went on for more than five hours.

Azam Tariq was chief spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban between 2009 and 2013, when Hakimullah Mehsud was leader.

After the latter's death in a drone strike, the movement split and Tariq became spokesman for a splinter faction led by Khan Said Sajna.

A spokesman for the Sajna group, Zeeshan Mehsud, telephoned journalists to confirm that Azam Tariq was dead.

He said the "matryrdom of Azam Tariq" was a cause of pride for the Mehsud tribesmen of South Waziristan.

He is the first prominent Pakistani Taliban leader to be killed in Afghanistan since the July 2016 killing of Hafiz Saeed Khan, the chief of so-called Islamic State for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.