Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud warned the government in Islamabad of dire consequences if US drone missile strikes continue, media reports said on Saturday.
In an audio message purportedly of Mehsud, sent to the reporters via e—mail late on Friday, the militant commander said the media was being used by “our enemies” to spread rumours that he had been killed, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Some media reports recently suggested that Mehsud was killed in a drone strike in the South Waziristan tribal district on Thursday. But there has been no confirmation from Pakistani officials or the Taliban of his death. It is not clear whether the audio message was recorded before or after Thursday. “The Pakistan government is letting the blood of innocent people be shed in return for dollars,” Mehsud said. “We are forced to take revenge on the Pakistan government for the killing of innocents.” The US military has increased its missile attacks against Taliban and al—Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region. There have been 10 drone strikes this month alone.
In the latest attacks, 11 people were killed and several more injured in two separate strikes late Friday. Five people were killed and three injured when a US drone fired four missiles on a house in Mir Ali area in North Waziristan, Dawn reported. Six people died in the second attack that took place in Mirkhani, an area along the border of North and South Waziristan.
The US missile campaign has eliminated dozens of Taliban and al—Qaeda militants, but it has also killed many civilians.
The loss of innocent lives has fuelled anger among the Pakistani public, which is increasingly pressuring the government to end cooperation with the US if it continues with the drone attacks.
Islamabad officially condemns the US strikes, but many analysts believe the country’s military and intelligence agencies are aiding the US intelligence services with information on possible targets.