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Central & South Asia
Pakistan Taliban chief vows revenge
Hakimullah Mehsud meets reporters in tribal area, ending speculation about his death.
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2009 15:14 GMT

The Pakistani Taliban's new leader has met reporters in the country's tribal areas and vowed to retaliate against the US and Pakistan for drone attacks, Al Jazeera's correspondent says.

The appearance on Sunday by Hakimullah Mehsud ended any speculation that he was killed in a leadership battle within the Pakistani Taliban set off by the killing in August of Baitullah Mehsud, his predecessor, in a missile attack.

Mehsud, flanked by other Taliban commanders in a show of unity, spoke to a small group of reporters, on the condition the interview only be published on Monday.

Revenge threat

Mehsud said his group would avenge the killing of Baitullah Mehsud and hit back at Pakistan and the US for the increasing number of drone attacks in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

In depth


 Profile: Baitullah Mehsud
 Profile: Pakistan Taliban 
 Witness: Pakistan in crisis
 
Inside Story: Pakistan's military
 Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan

Unmanned drones have carried out more than 70 missile attacks in northwestern Pakistan over the last year in a covert programme, killing several Taliban commanders along with sympathisers and civilians.

The Pakistani government publicly condemns the attacks but is widely believed to sanction them and provide intelligence for at least some.

American officials have said they are considering a strategy of intensified drone attacks combined with the deployment of special operations forces against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets on the Pakistani side of the border.

As part of the offensive against the Taliban leadership, Mehsud's brother, Kalimullah, was killed last month.

Analysts say the group is struggling to regroup from the attacks on its leaders.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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