Islamabad: A photograph purportedly released on Monday by the Pakistani Taliban shows its slain chief Hakimullah Mehsud after he was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan region.
The photo, whose authenticity could not be independently confirmed, shows Mehsud lying on a white sheet with bloodstains on his face. It was posted on several jihadi websites and a Facebook page.
Mehsud was killed with other militants when a CIA-operated spy plane targeted a compound in the lawless North Waziristan agency on Friday. His death threw into disarray the Pakistan government`s plans to hold talks with the Taliban.
Known as a ruthless commander, Mehsud first came to prominence after orchestrating audacious raids against the Pakistan Army.
He started as a bodyguard to Baitullah Mehsud, another Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief who was killed in a drone strike in 2009, and later became his close aide.
Mehsud also served as a spokesman for Baitullah before succeeding him.
It was in 2007, after the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers, that Mehsud`s name and prestige among the Taliban rose dramatically. He was made the Taliban commander in Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions and was regarded as the mastermind behind attacks on NATO supply trucks.
In 2010, Mehsud appeared with a Jordanian militant in a farewell video in which the latter claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA agents and contractors.
He was blamed for numerous terror attacks in Pakistan that killed thousands of people and security personnel. Security analysts say he brought the largely Pakistan-focusing Taliban closer to al Qaeda.