Pakistan Launches Operation to Kill Taliban Leader

Baitullah Mehsud blamed for several recent attacks
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 15, 2009 1:35 AM CDT
Residents of Pakistan's tribal region Waziristan travel to a safe area near Bannu, Pakistan. Pakistan has announced a manhunt in Waziristan for Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.   (AP Photo/Ijaz Muhammad)
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(Newser) – Pakistan is launching a manhunt for Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud—branded "the root cause of all evils," by one official—in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Pakistan officials blame Mehsud's group for a string of recent attacks, the BBC reports. The heavy military offensive is expected to please the US, though previous plans have often faltered or ended in truces that ended up strengthening the militants.

The news came hours after explosives hidden in a rickshaw blew up in a market in northwest Pakistan. At least eight people died after the bombs were detonated by remote control. Officials blamed Mehsud supporters for the attack. The military's new fight may prove even more challenging than Pakistan's offensive in Swat over the past six weeks, analysts say.