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Pakistan cabinet meets over killing

Source BBC News@

Has Mehsud's killing ended Pakistan's chance for peace?

Pakistan's PM is to chair urgent security cabinet talks to consider a response to the drone strike killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

Pakistan has accused the US of violating its sovereignty. The US State Department declined to comment but referred to Mehsud's alleged role in attacks on US citizens and interests.

The Taliban, meanwhile, are expected to continue talks on Mehsud's successor.

Reports on Saturday that they had made their choice were later denied.

Pakistan protests

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Friday's strike on Mehsud was "not just the killing of one person, it's the death of all peace efforts."

A Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to the tribal area of North Waziristan on Saturday to meet Mehsud to discuss possible peace talks.

A US state department official said talks with the Taliban were "an internal matter" for Pakistan.

Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest over the drone strike.

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan: "The Americans have a lot to learn"

The Taliban held their own meeting, or shura, in North Waziristan on Saturday, on the same day as Mehsud's funeral.

Reports circulated that regional Taliban commander Khan Said Sajna had been elected to the top job. However, these were later denied.

Khan Said Sajna is said to be in favour of accepting the government's current offer of talks, says the BBC's Richard Galpin, in Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.

Another apparent front-runner is the commander of the Taliban in the Swat valley, Mullah Fazlullah, whose men shot and almost killed the schoolgirl and campaigner Malala Yousfzai.

Our correspondent describes the Pakistan Taliban as a loose and at times fractious group.

Reaching an agreement on a new leader will test the ability of the senior commanders to work together, he says.

The US had a bounty of $5m on Mehsud's head. The state department described him as the head of the group which planned the failed bombing of Times Square in 2010 and said the Pakistani Taliban have a "symbiotic" relationship with al-Qaeda.

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


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