A high-ranking leader of the Pakistani Taliban died in a U.S. drone attack, the terrorist organization confirmed on Monday, Feb. 12.
Khalid Mehsud was the deputy leader of the banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, or TPP, which is the main faction of the Pakistani Taliban. The group is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.
— DNA (@dna) February 12, 2018
Mehsud was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, located near the border with Afghanistan, the group said in a statement, the BBC reported.
“We confirm that deputy head of the TTP Khalid Mehsud died in a drone strike,” said a spokesman, Mohammad Khurasani, Reuters reported. He said Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah appointed a commander called Mufti Noor Wali Wali to replace their dead deputy.
Mehsud, also known as Sajna, was killed along with his nephew and two guards, according to The Express Tribune. “The vehicle was completely destroyed,” an intelligence official told the Pakistani publication.
— Agenda Of Evil (@AgendaOfEvil) February 12, 2018
Mehsud, who had two wives and belonged to the Shobi Khel tribe, was placed on the U.S. Designated Terrorist list in October 2014, according to the Express Tribune.
Wali, according to Reuters, will now train militants in South Waziristan, a rugged mountainous region on the Afghan border which has long been home to Pakistani, Afghan, and al Qaeda-linked foreign militants.
Militant sources said Wali, known by the nickname Ghar Starga, is a ruthless leader with experience working in Pakistani urban areas including the southern city of Karachi.
Khalid Mehsud aka Khan Syed Sajna, current deputy of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and chief of the Mehsud Halqa/faction killed in drone strike in Margha, Barmal, Afghanistan. The drone hit his pickup. Three body guards including Ismail, his khuriye (newphew) killed. pic.twitter.com/dlVdOzLeuT
— Asfandyar Mir (@asfandyarmir) February 9, 2018
While U.S. and Afghan forces accuse Pakistan of failing to stop Afghan Taliban militants using safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border, Pakistani Taliban militants have been waging a campaign of bombings and other attacks on Pakistan’s security forces.
The Pakistani military mounted a major offensive against the militants in 2014, forcing many of them to withdraw into Afghanistan.
The border region is off limits to journalists and verifying information independently is difficult.
Reuters contributed to this report.