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Reports: CIA Drone Strike Kills Taliban Leader in Pakistan

August 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban movement in Pakistan, was reportedly killed this week by a CIA drone strike. ITN correspondent Alex Thomson reports.
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ALEX THOMSON: A rare glimpse of Baitullah Mehsud, a charismatic commander who, as leader of Pakistan’s biggest Taliban grouping, created such instability in the country that the U.S. put a $5 million bounty on his head.

That offer came to an abrupt end on Wednesday after a CIA drone’s missile targeted a home in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan. A Taliban commander and aide to Mehsud confirmed he had been killed.

Mehsud took over the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan group in December 2007 and soon became a major thorn in the side of the Pakistani government which blamed him for the assassination of the presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto and for the attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

SAJJAN GOHEL, Asia-Pacific Foundation: He put into question Pakistan’s own internal security. He was undermining it on a regular basis. It was creating a lot of problems for the military, for the police. And at the same time, they also painted him as the bogeyman, the man who was behind every single attack in Pakistan, even though it wasn’t necessarily proved that he was.

ALEX THOMSON: Mehsud supporters are already believed to be meeting to decide on the replacement, raising fears of revenge attacks. However long it takes to replace Mehsud, the violence in this region will continue.