US strike kills Pakistani Taliban leader; peace talks in geopardy

ISLAMABAD: A drone attack that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban was “an attack on the peace process”, Pakistan’s interior minister has said.

Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in the strike by the US on Friday, a day before a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to meet him.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said: “I’m afraid the Americans have a lot of learn regarding what’s happening in this part of the world.”

Pakistan Taliban secretly bury leader, vow bombs in revenge

Earlier Taliban fighters secretly buried their leader after he was killed by a U.S. drone aircraft and quickly moved to replace him while vowing a wave of suicide bombs in revenge.

The Pakistani government denounced the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud as a U.S. bid to derail planned peace talks and some politicians demanded that U.S. military supply lines into Afghanistan be blocked in response.

Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, and three others were killed on Friday in the militant stronghold of Miranshah in northwest Pakistan, Pakistani security officials and militants said.

Mehsud’s vehicle was hit after he attended a meeting of Taliban leaders, a Pakistani Taliban fighter said, adding Mehsud’s body was “damaged but recognizable”. His bodyguard and driver were also killed.

He was secretly buried under cover of darkness in the early hours by a few companions amid fears that his funeral might be attacked by U.S. drones, militants and Pakistani security sources said.

“Every drop of Hakimullah’s blood will turn into a suicide bomber,” said Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman.

“America and their friends shouldn’t be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr’s blood.”

Mehsud took over as leader of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The group’s two previous leaders were killed in attacks by U.S. missile-firing drones.

Taliban commanders voted to replace him with the movement’s number two, Khan Said, who is also known as Sajna.

Said is believed to have masterminded an attack on a jail in northwest Pakistan that freed nearly 400 prisoners in 2012 and a big attack on a Pakistani naval base. Agencies

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