Hakimullah`s close aide may have been killed too: Malik
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 18:28
Peshawar: Slain Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's close aide Qari Hussain, one of his potential successors and trainer of suicide bombers, may have also died in the same US drone attack that killed the top militant commander, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday.

Intercepts of militant communications have indicated that 28-year-old Mehsud had died after being wounded in a drone attack in Shaktoi area of Waziristan tribal region, Malik told the media after appearing in a court here.

Mehsud's close aide Qari Hussain, the head of the local Taliban's suicide bombing squad, might have also died in the same drone attack, he said.

Following reports of Mehsud's death due to injuries sustained in the January 14 US drone attack, top militants like Qari Hussain, Waliur Rehman, who heads the Taliban in South Waziristan Agency, and Asmatullah Mehsud had been tipped as his successors.

Malik said the government will continue the war on terror till all militants are eliminated. However, it is prepared to negotiate with Taliban elements who lay down arms, he said.

Taliban sources in the Aurakzai tribal region had told the media yesterday that Mehsud had died near Multan in Punjab province on Sunday while being taken to Karachi for medical treatment.

However, there were also reports that Mehsud had died in his father-in-law's village in Aurakzai tribal agency some time ago and had been buried in the region.

The Taliban in Aurakzai agency have named Qari Noor Jamal alias Maulana Toofan as their new acting chief in the area.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Azam Tariq has denied reports of Mehsud's death.

Malik said the government had sufficient evidence about the killing of Mehsud but it was still subject to confirmation by sources who could be relied upon.

The minister said no talks were being held with the militants.

However, the government is prepared to negotiate with Taliban elements if they stopped suicide attacks and laid down arms, he said.


First Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 18:28

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