Pakistan Taliban Secretly Bury Chief, Vow Bombs in Revenge
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Pakistani Taliban fighters secretly buried their chief on Saturday after he was killed by a US drone aircraft and quickly moved to replace him while vowing a wave of revenge suicide bombings.
The Pakistani government denounced the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud as a US bid to derail planned peace talks and summoned the US ambassador to protest. Some lawmakers demanded the blocking of US supply lines into Afghanistan in retaliation.
"The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace," said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. "Americans said they support our efforts at peace. Is this support?"
The country's foreign minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, also said the strike on the local Taliban leader "is not just the killing of one person, it's the death of all peace efforts."
The US has responded to accusations that the strike had destroyed the country's nascent peace process by saying that talks with the Taliban were an internal matter for Pakistan and that the two countries had a "shared strategic interest in ending extremist violence."
Mehsud, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head, along with four other people - including two of his bodyguards - were killed when four missiles struck their vehicle in the north-western region of North Waziristanand.
It came a day before a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to meet Mehsud.
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 US 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 took over as leader of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The group's two previous leaders were killed in attacks by US missile-firing drones.
Taliban commanders said they wanted 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.
But some commanders were unhappy with the choice and wanted more talks, several militants said, indicating divisions within the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group of factions allied with the Afghan Taliban and battling the Pakistani state in the hope of imposing Islamist rule.
The Pakistani Taliban killed an army general in September, has beheaded Pakistani soldiers and killed thousands of civilians in suicide bombings. The group also directed a failed attempt to bomb Times Square in New York.
In 2010, Mehsud appeared in a farewell video with a Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan.
Mehsud was in his mid-30s and had a sharp face framed by a beard and a tangle of long hair, usually flowing from beneath a traditional Afghan hat.