BREAKING: Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud killed in drone strike

Ahram Online, Friday 1 Nov 2013

The Pakistani Taliban confirmed on Friday that their leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, had been killed in a drone strike in the lawless Pakistani region of North Waziristan, senior Taliban and Pakistani intelligence sources told Reuters.

"Hakimullah Mehsud's funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. (Saturday) in Miranshah," an intelligence source said, referring to the main regional city. 

Five were killed in a  strike took place in the Dandey Darpakhel area, five kilometres (three miles) north of Miranshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region, a stronghold for Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.

It came a day after three insurgents were killed in another drone strike that also targeted a rebel compound near Miranshah.

"A US drone fired two missiles on a militant compound, killing four rebels," a senior security official told AFP earlier.

Another security official also confirmed the attack and casualties, but didn't mention the death of Hikimullah Mehsud.

The identities of those killed in the strike were not immediately known.

North Waziristan is one of seven semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan.

Washington considers these areas a major hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

The incident comes a week after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes during a meeting in Washington.

The Pakistani defence ministry Wednesday said 317 US drone strikes in the country's tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008.

US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty.

But privately officials have been reported as saying the attacks can be useful in removing militants from the country.

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