PESHAWAR: Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal agency on Friday, intelligence officials said.
Pakistani intelligence officials have reported to their higher-ups that the Pakistani Taliban supremo was leaving from a meeting at a mosque Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan when the drone targeted their vehicle.
Five militants, including Abdullah Bahar Mehsud and Tariq Mehsud, both key militant commanders and close aides of the TTP chief, were also killed in the drone strike, multiple sources confirmed.
There was no confirmation from the Pakistani government or the Taliban yet of the deaths.
Dande Darpakhel area is located five kilometres (three miles) north of Miramshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region, said to be a stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban.
The strike came a day after three insurgents were killed in another drone attack that also targeted a rebel compound near Miramshah. The US unmanned plane was still flying in the area after the attack.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said they were getting reports of the drone strike in North Waziristan agency. Condemning the strikes, he said these were aimed to sabotage efforts for establishing peace in the country.
“A delegation was about to be sent to talk to Taliban tomorrow (Saturday),” said the minister hinting that a “senior militant commander” may have been killed in today’s strike.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid earlier today said they have had “no contact” with the government, a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said a process to initiate peace talks had been started.
The incident comes a week after Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes during a meeting in Washington.
The Pakistani defence ministry Wednesday said 317 US drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008.
US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty. But privately officials have been reported as saying the attacks can be useful in removing militants from the country.
This is a developing story and will be updated as reports come in
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Taliban leader ‘killed in strike’
Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban, has been killed in a drone strike, security sources told Reuters.
The head of the Pakistani Tailban, Hakimullah Meshud, was among four people killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan region today, security sources have said.
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