VOA News – ISLAMABAD — A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed at least three people including Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed Mehsud’s death to VOA Deewa reporter Adnan Bitani in North Waziristan. The village is the stronghold of the Haqqani network, which routinely targets NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Media reports say Mehsud’s funeral will take place on Saturday.
The FBI has a $5 million FBI bounty on Mehsud, who was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
The attack is the second after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United States last month, when he pushed for an end to drone strikes. Most Pakistanis consider the drone strikes to be a violation of the country’s sovereignty.
A hardline religious group protested the strikes Friday in Islamabad and Lahore.
The strike also comes after Sharif said Thursday that peace talks with the Taliban have started during a meeting with British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London.
Sharif said the talks must take place within Pakistan’s constitutional framework but offered no details.
In a rare interview, Mehsud told the BBC last month that he was “open to talks.”
The Pakistani Taliban openly criticizes the country’s constitution and demands a much stricter version of Islamic law than allowed in the constitution.
Pakistan has been hit by extremist violence in recent years and the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a majority of attacks that have taken thousands of lives.