Pakistani Taliban denies allegiance to Islamic State

Pakistani Taliban denies allegiance to Islamic State

Pakistani Taliban denies allegiance to Islamic State

The Pakistani Taliban has denied reports that it has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it is not supporting any specific group in these countries.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahid Shahidullah said the statement issued by it last week was intended as an expression of support for all Islamist militants fighting in Syria and Iraq and struggling against western interests.

TTP, headed by fugitive Mullah Fazlullah, said that its statement has been misinterpreted.

"Some media did not publish our statement correctly," Shahidullah told reporters over phone from an undisclosed location.

"We are not supporting any specific group in Syria or Iraq, all groups there are noble and they are our brothers," he said.

Shahidullah said the Pakistani Taliban continued to align itself with Mullah Omar, the Afghan Taliban supremo.

"Mullah Omar is our head and we are following him," he said.

TTP, which was formed in 2007 and formally allies itself with Al-Qaeda, in a statement on Saturday said the Taliban would offer "every possible support" to Islamic State, a statement which several media outlets reported as a declaration of allegiance to the group.

IS, which has taken over vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, is a splinter group of the al-Qaeda which has distanced itself from the outfit, chiding it for its aggressive and brutal expansion.

Al-Qaeda, which includes dozens of Pakistan-based terror groups and sectarian outfits, is facing challenges from IS which is trying to extend its influence into South Asia.