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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Artworker

£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...

Guru Careers: Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engineer / Customer Support Exec

£16 - 18k: Guru Careers: A Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Software Programmer / Developer

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This ambitious and friendly sof...

Recruitment Genius: Software Sales Executive - OTE £80,000

£50000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company has been ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935