Pakistani Taliban chief killed in drone strike

Hakimullah Mehsud had been falsely reported dead several times in the past. Photo: Reuters

The chief of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a US drone strike on Friday, security sources and a senior Taliban commander said.

Hakimullah Mehsud was one of Pakistan's most wanted men with a $5 million US bounty on his head. He led an insurgency from a secret hideout in North Waziristan, the Taliban's mountainous stronghold on the Afghan border.

ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports.

A senior Taliban commander said:

We confirm with great sorrow that our esteemed leader was martyred in a drone attack.

The death will likely scupper the immediate prospect of peace talks between the Taliban and the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who won a landslide election victory in May by promising to bring peace to Pakistan.

In Washington, the US State Department had no comment on Mehsud's death.

His funeral will be held on Saturday in Miranshah, the Taliban commander said - an event likely to stir tensions further in the already volatile region.

Hakimullah Mehsud (centre) pictured with Taliban militants in 2009. Credit: Reuters

Mehsud, believed to be in his mid-30s, was killed along with his bodyguard and driver in the drone strike in North Waziristan.

The drones fired four missiles at a compound in Danda Darpa Khel, a village close to the regional capital of Miranshah, sources said.

Mehsud took over the Pakistani Taliban in August 2009 after a drone strike killed the previous leader.

The United States had offered $5 million for his capture after he appeared in a farewell video with the Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan in 2009.