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Pakistan summons US ambassador over drone death of Taliban leader Mehsud

Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest against the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone attack. It accused Washington of wrecking attempts to hold peace talks.

A statement from the Pakistani Foreign Office on Saturday said it had summoned Washington's envoy Richard Olson to protest the strike that killed Mehsud, the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Before the summoning of the ambassador, Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar accused the United States of "scuttling" efforts to broker peace with the Taliban.

The statement said that the strike was "counterproductive to Pakistan's efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region."

"The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace," said Nisar, adding that "very aspect" of cooperation between Pakistan and the US would be reviewed as a result of the strike. "Americans said they support our efforts at peace. Is this support?" added Nisar.

"Brick by brick in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process by which we could bring peace to Pakistan and what have you [the US] done?" he said.

Vow of vengeance

Nisar said a delegation of religious scholars had been 18 hours away from handing over a formal invitation to the Taliban for peace talks.

Taliban fighters were reported to have secretly buried their leader late on Friday. A spokesman vowed that the group would exact revenge.

"Every drop of Hakimullah's blood will turn into a suicide bomber," said Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman. "America and their friends shouldn't be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr's blood."

Mehsud's vehicle was hit after he had attended a meeting of Taliban leaders. His bodyguard and driver were also killed.

The Taliban chief had a bounty of $5 million (3.7 million euros) on his head. Taliban commanders are believed to be planning to replace him with the movement's number two, Khan Said, also known as Saina. Said is alleged to have been behind an attack on a jail in northwestern Pakistan that freed nearly 400 prisoners in 2012.

The death of Mehsud, regarded as a young and energetic leader, is viewed as a major blow against the TTP and follows the killing of the organization's number two Waliur Rehman.

rc/slk (AFP, Reuters)