Top militant opposing Pakistani Taliban chief killed (Lead)

June 23rd, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 23 (IANS) A top militant who had openly accused Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud of pursuing a “foreign agenda” was shot dead Tuesday, police and eyewitnesses said.
Qari Zainuddin was fatally shot in his house in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) town of Dera Ismail Khan, one of Mehsud’s main strongholds, Online news agency reported.

An associate of Zainuddin was injured in the incident.

A close aide of Zainuddin identified the killer as Gulbadeen Mehsud, who managed to flee from the scene. Gulbadeen, according to the aide, is a resident of the Makeen area of the lawless South Waziristan agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) over much of which Mehsud’s writ runs.

Zainuddin was taken to the hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.

No group has claimed responsibility for the assassination.

The injured aide, Baz Mohammad, said the assassin entered Zainuddin’s office after morning prayers and opened fire.

“It was definitely Baitullah’s man who infiltrated our ranks and has done his job,” Baz Mohammad said.

He said that Zainuddin was killed as he had upheld the principles of truth and justice and spoke against tyranny.

The aide said Zainuddin’s mission to uphold truth and justice and for the defense of Pakistan would continue, urging the entire nation to stand united and rise against Mehsud.

Zainuddin had accused Mehsud of pursuing a “foreign agenda” by waging an insurgency in his own country. He also supported the Pakistan military’s action against the warlord.

The Pakistani military, which had swung into South Waziristan last week, is now planning a full scale offensive against Mehsud. The military says it will first complete its operations in the Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that began April 26 before concentrating its energies on South Waziristan.

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