Peshawar attack
A man places a rose after lighting candles in front of portraits of the victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, during a candlelight vigil in Lahore.Reuters

The Pakistani security forces claim to have killed a senior Taliban commander, who is believed to have been the key planner for the Peshawar school massacre.

Reports claim that the senior Taliban commander, identified as Saddam chalked out the entire operational plan for the 'suicide mission' in which the Taliban gunmen killed over 160 people, including 132 children. Since the Peshawar incident, the security forces have intensified their attacks in the troubled Khyber region, which is a noted hideout of the Taliban militants.

"Saddam had been killed in the Gundi area of Jamrud by the security forces in an operation yesterday. Six of his accomplices have been captured alive," Peshawar Political Agent of Khyber Agency Shahab Ali Shah said in a statement.

A member of the Tariq Gedar group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Saddam reportedly assisted the seven Taliban gunmen in the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December.

The deceased senior Taliban commander, Saddam was also responsible for the killing of 11 security personnel and eight scouts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. The team was escorting the anti-polio teams during a campaign in tribal areas.

Following the brutal Taliban attack on Army Public School, the Pakistani army in what is being seen as a retaliatory move, has killed over 57 militants in air strikes in the Khyber tribal region where the suicide bombers were reportedly trained. There are reports of several combing operations being carried out in the region to flush out the militants.

Umar Mansoor, the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has warned the security personnel against targeting the Taliban. In a video during the seven-hour long siege, Mansoor had said: "If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape. We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents."