LAHORE - A drone strike has killed high-ranking TTP commander Khan Syed Mehsud alias Sajna and more than 10 of his key lieutenants at Pak-Afghan border near North Waziristan Agency, security officials told The Nation yesterday.

Khan Syed Mehsud alias Sajna who is heading an anti-Fazlullah faction is on the run in Afghanistan, evading the Zarb-e-Azb operation launched to purge North Waziristan of militants and their foreign associates.

Security officials told the paper Sajna who crossed over to Afghanistan after the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb was killed somewhere in Khost along with 10 of his confidants in a US drone strike. However, the remoteness of the Afghan territory made it difficult to ascertain the number of his other foot soldiers killed and injured in the strike.

Some of the tribesmen told The Nation from Mohmand Agency, an area in which Sajna waged battle against his rivals, reports pouring in from other side of the Durand Line confirmed the death of the high-profile TTP commander along with his close associates.

The Mehsud faction of the TTP steered by Sajna has not denied or rejected the death of their chief.

Sajna, according to the tribesmen, wanted a conditional surrender before the launch of the military operation, but crossed over to Afghanistan after his failure to strike a deal.

Security officials said the military authorities had decided, in principle, before the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb there would be no ‘good and bad’ militants and anybody who wanted to surrender would do it unconditionally.

Sajna, even after crossing into Afghanistan, was on the run because he failed to get the support of elements in Afghan security services which were backing Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of the defunct TTP. Sajna had been targeted by the henchmen of Fazlullah and his Afghan facilitators at least twice before the US drone neutralised him, they added.

The tribesmen claimed Sajna finally wanted to make peace with Fazlullah and the drone strike killed him when he was about to reach the venue of a meeting with his rivals and local mediators.

The chief of his faction of the TTP, Sajna formed his group when Fazlullah became head of the TTP after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike in North Waziristan in November 2013.

Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio, launched Sheheryar Mehsud as his key commander to deal with Khan Syed Mehsud alias Sajna.

Earlier, former TTP spokesman Shahid Ullah Shahid who announced allegiance to Daesh along with four commanders in October 2014 was killed in a drone strike in July this year in the Khost province of Afghanistan.

The number of US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal area has sharply declined in recent months as the Pakistani security services have recently developed its own drone which is being used for both aerial surveillance and targeting terrorist targets.