Mehsud rival shot dead by own guard

A file photo shows tribal leader Qari Zainuddin (centre) surrounded by his armed guard as he talks to media in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan. AFP Zainuddin was fatally shot reportedly by one of his own guards at his house in Madina Colony in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday morning. The assailant later fled, police said.

His close aide Baaz Mohammad, who was injured in the attack, said a guard barged into the room where Zainuddin was resting after morning prayers and shot him at point blank range.

Zainuddin had emerged as Mehsud’s chief rival and had criticised the Taliban leader for carrying out attacks on civilians. The attack on the militant leader brought to fore factionalism within the Taliban, as they come under Pakistan army offensive.

The Pakistan Army, after clearing militants from Swat, has started pounding Mehsud’s stronghold in South Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, in preparation for a major ground assault to target him.

Drone attacks

The development came as a US drone fired three missiles hitting a suspected Taliban training centre in the village of Najmarai in the Makeen area in South Waziristan Agency.

Makeen incidentally is the home village of Gulbadeen Mehsud, the alleged killer of Zainuddin.

A Pakistani security official said the drones fired three missiles killing seven people and destroyed a compound, a bunker and two vehicles of Taliban.

It was not immediately known if there were any high-value targets among the dead militants. Locals dug out bodies from the rubble as Pakistani fighter aircrafts made sweeps of the area after the attack.

Washington suspects that top Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders are holed up in Waziristan, which has been targeted by CIA’s predator drones for last two years with high kill rate.


After the attack on Zainuddin, whom Baitullah Mehsud had accused a ‘government militant’, his supporters vowed to take revenge on the Taliban chief.

Zainuddin, who also comes from the Mehsud tribe, is reported to have 3,000 militiamen under his command and were likely to accompany Pakistan Army units in their thrust into Waziristan. In media interviews, Zainuddin had accused Baitullah of having links with Israel and India. He also claimed that Baitullah was acting against Islam and Pakistan.

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