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DRONE KILLING PUTS PAKISTAN ON ALERT; Anger spills on to the streets after deadly attack on Taliban chief.

Byline: GARRETH MacNAMEE

THE drone strike killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has put Pakistan's security forces on high alert.

The fundamentalist kingpin is believed to have been taken out by a US attack on Friday.

Reports in Pakistan suggest the funeral of the Taliban leader has already taken place at an unknown location in the tribal area of North Waziristan.

A Pakistan Government minister said the drone strike had "destroyed attempts to hold peace talks" with the militants.

Mehsud was killed along with four other people, including two of his bodyguards, when four missiles struck their vehicle in the north-western region of North Waziristan.

The Taliban's ruling council met yesterday to choose a new leader. Unconfirmed reports say regional commander Khan Said Sajna has been elected to the top job.

As well as Mehsud, the previous Pakistan Taliban leader was killed in a drone strike, in 2009.

Hakimullah Mehsud was killed one day before Pakistani officials say they were scheduled to send a threemember team to start peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Pakistan's Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar, told local TV news channel, Geo, the drone strike was an attempt to "sabotage" Pakistan's peace talks with Taliban.

But many believe Mehsud's death will leave the field open for groups known to have publicly favoured a rapprochement with Pakistan.

Neither the Pakistani nor US governments have officially confirmed or denied the reports of the strike and Mehsud's death.

However, Pakistan's security forces have been put on high alert. Militants have in the past carried out retaliatory attacks after the killings of other Taliban commanders.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the US President's National Security Council, would not comment on any US government involvement or confirm the death.

This has destroyed attempts to hold peace talks PAKISTANI MINISTER CHAUDHRY NISAR unhappy at latest strike by us

CAPTION(S):

Anger: Taliban supporters burn US flag

Target: Mehsud was killed in attack

Security: Pakistan remains tense
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Nov 3, 2013
Words:322
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