A top Taliban militant leader has been sacked as the deputy commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, amid speculation of a deepening rift in the terror group over the peace talks with the government.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad has been removed from the post of deputy commander of the TTP and will now be a "common fighter", a spokesman for the militant group has said.
Mohammad, who belongs to the restive Bajaur tribal region, was removed from his post for unspecified reasons during a meeting of the TTP shura or council chaired by commander Hakimullah Mehsud on Sunday.
The shura "felt the organisation no more required the role of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad as deputy chief" and he would be considered a "common fighter and will no longer enjoy the status of TTP deputy chief", Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told journalists in Peshawar on phone from an undisclosed location.
Some reports have suggested that Mohammad fell out of favour with Hakimullah Mehsud for his perceived support for peace talks with the Pakistan government.
Mohammad will "remain part of the TTP", Ehsan said when he was asked if the commander was being expelled. No one had been appointed in his place, Ehsan said.
Mohammad was made deputy chief of the grouping when several militant factions came together in South Waziristan Agency on December 14, 2007 to form the TTP.
He also served as the Taliban commander in Bajaur Agency, one of seven semi-autonomous regions in the tribal belt along the Afghan border.
Mohammad had to flee from Bajaur Agency when the Pakistan army launched an operation in the region in August 2008. He then settled in Kunar province of Afghanistan. Maulvi Dadullah replaced Mohammad as the Taliban commander in Bajaur Agency.