Pakistan Taliban No 2 Waliur Rehman is buried after being killed in drone strike, claim intelligence officials

 

The Pakistani Taliban's deputy leader was buried hours after he was killed in a US drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials and militants said on Thursday.

The death of Waliur Rehman has not been confirmed by the White House or the official Pakistani Taliban spokesman, but if true, it would be a major blow to the militant group whose bombings and other attacks have killed thousands.

Rehman's killing in a US drone strike on Wednesday could also rattle the incoming Pakistani ruling party's goal of negotiating with the Taliban. Rehman had previously been considered more amenable to peace talks than his superior, Hakeemullah Mehsud, who remains at large.

Rehman and four other people were killed on Wednesday morning by the drone-fired missiles that slammed into a house on the outskirts of Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Two intelligence officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that informants on the ground told them Rehman was buried on Wednesday night. Also, two militants told the AP they attended the funeral. All four spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Journalists have little access to North Waziristan or other tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, making independent confirmation of the claims difficult.

The missile attack was the first since Pakistan's May 11 elections, which ushered in a new ruling party that has promised to push the U.S. to end such strikes. It also followed President Barack Obama's speech last Thursday during which he pledged more restrictive rules on the use of drones.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to confirm Wednesday if Rehman was dead. He said if it's true, Rehman's death would deprive the militant group of its chief military strategist, a man the U.S. says was involved in an attack that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan.

In 2010, Washington offered $5 million for information leading to Rehman.

The US drone program is deeply unpopular in Pakistan, even though the number of strikes has dropped significantly since 2010. The strikes usually target al-Qaida-linked insurgents or other militants who fight in Afghanistan, but some have killed militants at war with Pakistan's government.

The Pakistani Taliban has been battling government forces for years in a bid to push them from the tribal regions, cut Pakistan's ties with the U.S. and eventually establish their brand of hardline Islam across Pakistan.

Pakistan's incoming prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has said he is against the use of American drones on Pakistani soil, and that he is open to negotiating with the Pakistani Taliban. But Rehman's death could complicate that by depriving the process of a potential key player.

Rehman was believed to be about 42 or 43 years old and was from South Waziristan, said Mansur Mahsud, director of administration and research at the Islamabad-based FATA Research Center. He had already been fighting American troops in Afghanistan when the Pakistani Taliban was created in late 2007 and he turned his focus more onto Pakistani targets.

"He was a very cool-minded person, a very intelligent person and he was someone that the government could talk to," Mahsud said.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the drone strike Wednesday but did not mention Rehman. Senior Pakistani civilian and military officials are known to have supported some of the drone strikes in the past, but many say that is no longer the case.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower