"--IANS/EFE"
Islamabad, April 30 - At least three alleged militants died Wednesday in northeastern Pakistan following a clash between rival factions of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan -, the main Taliban group of the country, official sources here said.

The incident occurred in the Shaktoi area in the South Waziristan tribal region when a remote-controlled bomb exploded on a vehicle carrying the people who died and two other passengers, one of whom was injured.

Nisar Amjad Ali, an official of the co-ordinating agency of the tribal areas, told EFE that the victims belonged to one of the two main factions of the TTP.

For some years now, these factions have been engaged in a fight for the control of the organisation which has intensified in the last few weeks.

A source from the local administration of South Waziristan confirmed the incident and the number of casualties although some local channels said the figure was higher at five.

The warring factions belong to the powerful Mehsud tribe considered by local analysts to be the heart of the TTP.

They are respectively led by Khan Sayad alias Sajna and Sheryar Mehsud who have recently succeeded former leaders of the group and are now locked in a battle for control of the Pakistani Taliban.

Sheryar Mehsud was very close to Hakimullah Mehsud who headed the TTP from 2010 onwards and died last October in a US drone atack.

Khan Sayad was the deputy of Waliur Rehman who was also the second-in-command in TTP and who too died in a bombing by the US in May last year.

Maulana Fazlullah, elected last October as leader of the TTP, has been unable to stop the escalation of violence between the rival factions that, according to local analysts, is seriously damaging the internal cohesion of the Taliban group.

The lack of strong leadership is seen as one of the factors behind the breakdown of the dialogue initiated in February between the government and the TTP which till now has yielded barely any result.

According to a recent report of a local research centre, there were more than 1,700 attacks in the country last year -- 61 percent of them were carried out by the TTP or its alliances -- causing the death of close to 2,500 people, 19 percent more than in 2012.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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