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Ear to the Ground

Pakistan Says Drone Assassination Will Thwart Taliban Peace Talks

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Posted on Nov 2, 2013
AP/Ishtiaq Mehsud

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, who was killed Friday, with Waliur Rehman, a senior leader of the group who was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike in May.

Members of the Pakistani Taliban vowed revenge by a wave of suicide bombings for the killing of their leader Friday by a U.S. drone.

Pakistani officials were also furious at the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, saying the attack would stymie planned peace talks between the government and the Taliban and was perhaps intended to do so. Some lawmakers demanded the blocking of U.S. supplies into Afghanistan in retaliation.

“The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said. “Americans said they support our efforts at peace. Is this support?”

Mehsud’s vehicle was hit in the militant stronghold of Miranshah in northwest Pakistan. He was pinned with a $5 million bounty. Three others were killed in the attack, which apparently took place after a meeting of Taliban leaders. His bodyguard and driver were among those killed.

Reuters reported:

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 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 became leader of the al-Qaida-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The group’s two previous leaders were killed by missiles fired from U.S. drones.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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