Asmatullah Shaheen
Asmatullah Shaheen was killed alongside three other men in a village ambush AFP

A battle-hardened Pakistan Taliban commander has been killed in an ambush in North Waziristan.

Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani was driving through a village in the north east Pakistan region when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the vehicle he and three others were in.

All four men were killed in the attack. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the killings.

Shaheen played a key role in Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is the Pakistani arm of the Taliban, and took over as interim leader after former chief Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in November.

The terrorist was reported dead last month following an aerial bombardment of Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan.

The TTP is yet to confirm the killing.

Who is Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani?

Asmatullah Shaheen was a commander from the Khichi sub tribe of Bhittani, South Waziristan.

Known for his ruthless attitude towards prisoners, the commander was one of the top deputies of former Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Asmatullah became interim chief of the TTP after Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in November but wasn't allowed to ascend the leadership mantle full-time as he hailed from a different tribe.

In December 2011, Shaheen's militants attacked Pakistan tribal army, the Frontier Corps's military bastion, killing an officer and kidnapping a further 23 other soldiers.

Although seven soldiers managed to escape, the rest of the abductees were tortured and murdered.

The mutilated bodies were sprayed with 40 bullets after they were recovered from North Waziristan.