The chief of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a US drone strike on Friday, security sources and a senior Taliban commander said.
Hakimullah Mehsud was one of Pakistan's most wanted men with a $5 million US bounty on his head. He led an insurgency from a secret hideout in North Waziristan, the Taliban's mountainous stronghold on the Afghan border.
- Report: US cancels drone deal with Turkey
- UN rights chief challenges US and Israel on drones
- Yemen drone strike kills 4 Qaeda terrorists
"We confirm with great sorrow that our esteemed leader was martyred in a drone attack," a senior Taliban commander told Reuters.
Chief of Pakistani Taliban (Photo: AFP)
Next to the Jordanian bomber (Photo: Reuters)
The United States have been after Meshud after he appeared in a farewell video with the Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan in 2009. US prosecutors have charged him with involvement in the attack. The Taliban are also accused of plotting to bomb Times Square in New York in 2010.
Four security officials confirmed his death to Reuters. His bodyguard and driver were also killed, they said.
The drones fired four missiles at a compound in Danda Darpa Khel, a village about 5 km (3 miles) from the regional capital of Miranshah, sources said. Mehsud had been attending a gathering of 25 Taliban leaders gathering to discuss the government's offer of talks, they said.
The government, which officially condemns US drone strikes, issued its usual statement denouncing the attack but did not comment on reports of Mehsud's death.
Although Mehsud's death will bring calls for revenge, it may make negotiations with the militants easier in the long-run, said Saifullah Mahsud, director of the Pakistani think-tank FATA Research Center.
"Hakimullah Mehsud was a very controversial figure and he had very tough demands," he said.
But the strike did not signal the end of the Pakistani Taliban, he said.
"It's a very decentralized organisation. They've lost leaders to drone strikes before."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop