Speenkay Raghzai (Pak-Afghan Border): The Pakistan Military has claimed to have intercepted Taliban militants' communications saying that Qari Hussain, the Taliban's chief ideologist and principal suicide bombing trainer, was killed in "Operation Zalzala", and has started looking for evidence of his death.
It said that Hussain was killed in the encounter carried out by Pakistani security forces.
"We have picked up intercepts of militants saying Qari Hussain has been killed in the operation," the Daily Times quoted senior army commander who led Operation Zalzala (Earthquake) in South Waziristan as saying.
If the Taliban intercepts are confirmed, it would be a major success for the army, as it would have eliminated a person who is directly responsible for indoctrinating young men to train for suicide missions, said the paper.
Qari Hussain, a Mehsud tribesman affiliated with a banned militant organisation, is known for running Baitullah Mehsud-led Taliban suicide bombing training centres. One of such training centre, which deployed young suicide bombers deep within Pakistan and perhaps Afghanistan, was discovered at a government-run school in the Kotkai area by the army.
"It was a normal school meant for imparting modern education to tribal people. But we found material used in suicide bombing there," said GOC-14 Division Major General Tariq Khan last evening.
Meanwhile, Brig Ali Abbas, who commands troops in Speenkay Raghzai and Kotkai regions bordering Afghanistan, said that the Taliban also had recruitment offices in Tank city before the army were deployed in the area last year. He was unsure of whether the Taliban could be running other suicide bombing training centres in the area.