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Pakistani Taliban put on hold naming of new chief

PTI | Last Updated: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 22:53

Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban on Saturday put on hold a decision to make Khan Syed alias Sajna its new chief after the killing of warlord Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike when several militant commanders opposed the move.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) named Shehryar Mehsud as the caretaker chief and its Shura or council will meet again in the next few days to decide on a new leader, Taliban sources said.

The sources said the Shura had initially agreed on Sajna`s name during a meeting in South Waziristan but later withheld the decision due to opposition from commanders belonging to the Nuristan Shura.

"So it was decided to meet again possibly tomorrow to decide a new leader," a source said.

Even as Mehsud and five other militants killed with him in yesterday`s drone strike were buried at undisclosed locations in North Waziristan, the Taliban vowed to carry out "unprecedented" retaliatory attacks.

The government beefed up security across Pakistan in the wake of Mehsud`s killing. "All precautions have been taken," Interior Ministry spokesman Omar Hameed Khan said.

Security was increased at all sensitive government and military installations, public places and airports, and more policemen could be seen on the streets.

Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq confirmed Mehsud`s death in the drone strike in Danday Darpakhel area and pledged that the group would continue its activities.

Enraged by the killing of Mehsud, the Taliban vowed to take revenge for the drone attack in which the militant group alleged the Pakistani government was involved.

"Our revenge will be unprecedented," Abu Omar, a Taliban commander in North Waziristan, was quoted as saying by The New York Times. Omar said he considered the Pakistani government was "fully complicit" in the drone strike.

Sajna, 36, remains at the top of the list to succeed Mehsud. He is said to be a close associate of Mehsud and was given the title of Sajna by slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

He is also believed to have been involved in an attack on a naval base in Karachi and was credited with masterminding a 2012 jailbreak in which the Taliban freed nearly 400 prisoners in northwestern Bannu city.

First Published: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 22:53

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