Islamabad: A "shocked" Pakistani Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of its deputy chief Waliur Rehman in a US drone strike and announced it was withdrawing its offer of talks with the incoming PML-N government. (Agencies)
"I confirm the martyrdom of Waliur Rehman in a drone strike on Wednesday. We are shocked at the martyrdom of our leader but are proud of his sacrifices," said Ihsanullah Ihsan, spokesman for the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Ihsan said the Taliban was withdrawing its offer of a dialogue with the new government, and would avenge Rehman's killing. “We had sincerely offered a dialogue to the government but we strongly believe that the government has a role to play in the drone strikes," he said.
The Taliban consider the Pakistan government "fully responsible" for the drone strikes because it is "passing on information" to the US, he said by phone from an undisclosed location. "We believe all drone strikes are carried out with the consent of the Pakistani government and information is passed on to the Americans by Pakistani authorities."
"Now we will take revenge as talks cannot be held when our leaders are being killed in drone strikes and with the help of the Pakistani government," he said.
"This is now a final decision," Ihsan added. Self-styled Commander Khan Saeed alias Sajna was reportedly nominated to succeed Rehman as the deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban. Saeed was a close aide of Rehman and reportedly runs several militant training camps in the restive tribal region.
However, the Taliban spokesman did not confirm reports of Saeed's elevation as deputy chief.
Rehman, 42, and three senior militant commanders were among six persons killed in the CIA-operated drone strike carried out in Chashma Pul area of North Waziristan Agency. The slain commander, who was carrying a USD 5 million bounty on his head, was buried at Khati Kaley near Miranshah on Wednesday night.
Islamabad: A "shocked" Pakistani Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of its deputy chief Waliur Rehman in a US drone strike and announced it was withdrawing its offer of talks with the incoming PML-N government.