Pakistan Taliban Elect Hardliner Behind Malala Shooting New Chief

Image: Pakistan Taliban Elect Hardliner Behind Malala Shooting New Chief

Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 09:31 AM

 

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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban elected Mullah Fazlullah, the commander whose men shot schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai last year, as their new leader on Wednesday, dampening expectations of any peace deal between the insurgents and the government.

The election of Fazlullah, known for his hardline Islamist views and rejection of peace talks, follows the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, the previous leader or ameer, in a U.S. drone strike last week.

"Following proper consultations . . . we chose our senior commander Mullah Fazlullah as our new ameer," said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

He told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location in neighboring Afghanistan that the decision was taken after a shura council meeting by senior Taliban figures.

Nicknamed "Mullah Radio" for his fiery Islamist radio broadcasts in Swat valley, Fazlullah is considered hardline even within the Pakistani Taliban movement itself.

The Pakistan government in 2009 launched a military operation and expelled his fighters from the Swat valley, where he had been chief Taliban commander. He fled across the border to Afghanistan and is now believed to be in Nuristan province.

His men shot and wounded Yousafzai last year because of her campaign to promote education among women in Swat, one of Pakistan's most conservative areas.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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