First US Drone Strike Since Election Hits Pakistan, Killing Seven

Officials Claim Pakistani Taliban Number Two Among the Slain

With tensions expected to soar between Pakistan and the United States over the drone issue, the US had an unusually long lull between strikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas. That ended today when a drone attacked North Waziristan Agency, killing seven.

Hakimullah Mehsud (left) and Wali-ur Rehman (right) during one of the rare periods since 2009 in which neither one was rumored to be dead

Among the slain, according to preliminary reports, was Wali-ur Rehman, the chief military strategist of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Rehman is often seen as the group’s “second-in-command” and was perceived as a likely successor should any of Hakimullah Mehsud’s many rumored deaths prove to actually be true.

Rehman is no stranger to being ruled “confirmed killed” either. In August 2009, shortly after the assassination of Baitullah Mehsud, Rehman was reported to have killed Hakimullah (for the first time) before being slain himself by guards. Both emerged from the incident unscathed, with Rehman going public just days later to deny the incident ever took place.

The TTP, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news of Wali’s latest death with intense skepticism, with a spokesman for the group saying they hadn’t heard anything of the sort and that it was likely another false death.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.