ISLAMABAD- A Pakistani Taliban splinter group has confirmed the death of one of its key commanders in latest air strikes in Khyber tribal agency.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar says that its commander Abu Jandal was killed in bombing on Sunday, the group’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan said. Abd Jandal belonged to Mohmand tribal agency and had been operating from Khyber agency.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attack which killed nearly 60 people at Wahga border on November 2. The group was launched in August after some senior commanders parted ways with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan over serious differences.

“Yesterday on 9/11/14, enemy indiscriminately bombed the area and as a result Commander Abu Jandal of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar embraced  Shahadah,” Ehsanullah Ehsan said in a statement.

A military statement had also mentioned the killing of a senior commander along 12 other terror suspects in Khyber agency’s air strikes on Sunday. The ISPR statement did not name the slain commander.

“In precise aerial strikes in Aka Khel Tirah, Khyber agency 10 terrorists hideouts and an ammunition depot were destroyed. 13 terrorists killed including an important terrorist commander known for training of suicide bombers. 2 suicide bombers also included among those killed,” the statement said. The security forces last month opened a new front against the “Lashkar-e-Islam” group, blamed for attacks on forces and tribal elders in Khyber agency.

Khyber agency is a key supply route for the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan and the government wants to make it secure for the withdrawal of heavy machinery of foreign troops. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has announced support for the Lashkar-e-Islam and the group’s chief Maulvi Fazalullah said he has asked his fighters to join the fighting. The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also says it has sent 50 fighters to help the Lashkar-e-Islam.

"The Mujahideen of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar understand the importance of this area and operation and we have decided to aid the Mujahideen of Khyber. One 50 strong contingent of our Jamaat is already busy fighting in Khyber agency where intense fighting in going on at the moment,” Ehsanullah said. Security sources describe the Taliban statement as a propaganda stunt and said the militants are on the run.