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Pakistan Criticizes US Killing of Pakistani Taliban Leader

Pakistan has summoned the U.S. ambassador to register a strong protest against the killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Saturday the drone strike has undercut government efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the decade-long Taliban insurgency.

Khan said the government also has taken several other retaliatory decisions but he would not say if that included the suspension of convoys ferrying supplies through Pakistan to U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan vowed to block NATO supplies from passing through Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province along the Afghan border.

The province, which is ruled by Imran Khan's political party, is a key route through which NATO supplies move in and out of Afghanistan.

The interior minister said a government delegation was on its way to speak with Mehsud Friday when drone missiles struck his compound in North Waziristan.

Pakistani and U.S. officials have confirmed Mehsud was killed in the attack.



In a statement Saturday, the Afghan government condemned the killing of Mehsud and urged Pakistan to stop U.S. drone strikes, which are aimed at suspected al-Qaida and Taliban operatives.

It is unclear if the Pakistani Taliban has chosen a new leader. Some reports say the group's second in command, Khan Said, also known as Sajna, was promoted on Saturday. Others quote Taliban spokesmen saying a new leader will be chosen within a few days.

The 34-year-old Mehsud took over the Pakistani Taliban in 2009 when its previous head was killed, also by a drone strike.

The U.S. had a $5 million bounty on Mehsud. He was accused of involvement in a deadly suicide attack on a CIA compound in Afghanistan in 2009 and a failed bombing of New York's Times Square in 2010.

Mehsud's cousin, uncle and a bodyguard were also reportedly killed in the CIA attack on the compound, which sources confirmed to VOA was used by the Taliban leader.

Pakistani leaders say they strongly oppose U.S. drone strikes. But some critics believe the operations are part of a secret agreement under which Pakistan tacitly approves the U.S. strikes.

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