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Pak Taliban chief Mehsud's rival eliminated

June 23, 2009 11:32 IST

Militant commander Qari Zainuddin, a rival of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan.

An aide of Zainuddin was injured in the attack in Madina Colony neighbourhood of Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday morning. Zainuddin's death was confirmed by the police and family members.

Another aide of Zainuddin claimed he was shot dead by Gulbadeen Mehsud, a resident of Makeen in South Waziristan. Gulbadeen fled after the attack, the aide said. Makeen is considered a stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing of Zainuddin, who had expressed his opposition to Baitullah Mehsud in recent media interviews. Zainuddin had also declared war against the Pakistani Taliban chief and his followers.

Like Baitullah, Zainuddin was a member of the Mehsud tribe. He led his own group comprising some 3,000 fighters. 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.

Acknowledging his differences with Baitullah, Zainuddin said they had separated over the issue of suicide attacks and carrying out militant actions within Pakistan.

He said the Taliban movement had been formed to fight foreign forces in Afghanistan and Islam does not permit attacks inside Pakistan.

Militants aligned with Mehsud, however, had described Zainuddin as a "pro-government" militant commander.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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