Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

#BringBackOurInternet: English-speaking Cameroon hit by digital blackout

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Preaching coexistence: Avant-garde mosque opens in Lebanon's Druze heartland

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Prison guards turn guns on prisoners in Chile, and thousands of migrants stuck in smoky warehouses in Serbia

Read more

FACE-OFF

French presidential race: Le Pen makes groundbreaking visit to Lebanon

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

93 candles for Robert Mugabe

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French Senate report: Govt policy to 'de-radicalize' jihadists is not working

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Novotel attack trial gets under way in Ivory Coast

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Austria to reward companies for hiring locals

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

France's Macron takes presidential campaign to London

Read more

Asia-pacific

Suicide blast strikes police patrol in tribal area

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-10

A suicide attack on a police patrol in the north-western Khyber tribal region has killed 14 people, including seven policemen, moments after Pakistani officials said they had "credible information" suggesting Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was dead.

REUTERS - Pakistan said on Wednesday it had information suggesting Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud had died of wounds inflicted in a U.S. drone aircraft attack in January.

But in a reminder of the danger posed by the militants, even if, as looks increasingly likely, their leader is dead, a suicide car-bomber killed seven policemen and five passers-by in the Khyber region on the Afghan border.

Speculation has swirled over the Taliban leader’s fate since Jan. 14 when security officials said a missile-firing U.S. drone had targeted him. A drone was belived to have attacked him again three days later, officials said.

“I have credible information that he’s dead but I don’t have any confirmation,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters.

But two Taliban officials, including a senior commander, called Reuters earlier in the day to deny that Mehsud had died.

The rumours about his fate intensified on Tuesday after another Taliban official, requesting anonymity, told journalists the leader had died of wounds.

The death of Mehsud, notorious for his ferocity, could temporarily disrupt the Taliban campaign of bomb attacks.

But the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban are part of a militant network that includes groups from Punjab province and has a presence in most parts of the country. That network remains intact and highly dangerous..

A suicide bomber attacked a police patrol on Wednesday in the Khyber region, on a road leading to the main crossing on the Afghan border, killing seven policemen and five passers-by, said Rahat Gul, a government official in the region.

SPECULATION

The U.S. drone strikes aimed at Mehsud last month came after a video emerged showing him with a Jordanian double agent bomber who killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan on Dec.  30.

In Washington, a U.S. counter-terrorism official said on Tuesday he could not confirm Mehsud’s death but it was up to the Taliban to prove he was alive.

“At this point, the onus is on the Pakistani Taliban to produce this guy—especially as time wears on,” the official said.

“Hakimullah certainly hasn’t shied away from the terrorist limelight before, so if he’s alive, why is he doing so now when there’s so much speculation about his demise? Here’s to hoping the speculation is correct,” the official said.

Two Taliban officials, including Noor Jamal, a little-known commander Pakistani newspapers said could succeed Mehsud, denied he was dead.

“Hakimullah was neither killed nor I have been appointed acting amir (chief) of the Taliban,” Jamal, who is also known as Toofan, which means “strong” in Urdu, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Wali-ur-Rehman, a Taliban commander who is in charge of militants in their South Waziristan bastion, is also considered a possible successor to Mehsud.

Separately, a Pakistani military helicopter gunship crashed in the Khyber region, where security forces are fighting militants, killing two crew on board, the military said.

The cause of the crash was believed to have been bad weather, said a military official.
 

Date created : 2010-02-10

COMMENT(S)