Update 12:43 EST: At this stage there has been no official confirmation of the drone strike, or of the death of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The strongest indication that the story is true comes from Reuters. The news agency says that a senior security official confirmed that Hakimullah Mehsud died in a drone strike.
The Reuters report did not say whether or not the security official was from the United States or Pakistan, and the report makes note of previous erroneous reports about the death of Mehsud. Dawn.com said that their news of the death came from unnamed sources. Al Jazeera claimed a senior official as their source, but there has not been any official response to the reports at this stage.
The reported drone strike is the second major airborne attack to hit Pakistan this week. Another strike hit the country on Thursday and killed three insurgents. The process to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Pakistan was just started yesterday, making the timing of today’s attack particularly important.
If Pakistani Taliban Leader Hakimullah Mehsud did die in the attack it is more likely that confirmation will come from the Pakistani government or the Taliban itself than from the government of the United States. The leader did not have a high enough profile to merit a press conference in America, and the country’s government prefers to speak about its use of drones as little as possible.
Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed according to local news souces. A report from Dawn.com says that Mehsud was one of five people killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan. This is not the first time that the Taliban leader has been reported dead, but today’s reports appear to have more weight behind them.
According to local media a drone strike hit a compound in the Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan. The area is generally held to be lawless, and beyond the reach of American or Pakistani influence. The compound was completely destroyed in the attack, which involved the use of two drone-fired missiles.
Hakimullah Mehsud dead
According to Dawn.com a high level meeting of the Pakistani Taliban was taking place inside the compound at the time of the strike. The killing of the Talibn leader comes as the Pakistani government softens its view on how to deal with the militants.
The country’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said that A delegation was about to be sent to talk to Taliban tomorrow.” That meeting may not be allowed to go ahead if the reports of the death of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud are true.