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Pakistani Taliban elects Mullah Fazlullah as new leader


The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday named Mullah Fazlullah as their new leader, almost a week after former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal area.

Asmatullah Shaheen, who has been leading the Taliban since Mehsud's death last Friday, held a telephone press conference telling reporters that a 17-member advisory council of the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan had elected Fazlullah, also known as "Mullah Radio" for his firebrand speeches on clandestine radio in Pakistan's Swat Valley, to lead the group.

Fazlullah was the driving force in the establishment of an Islamic system in North Swat and led an insurgency there from 2007 to 2009.

He fled to Afghanistan in 2009 following an army operation, but was present in Waziristan for Thursday's election, according to Shaheen.

Sheikh Khalid Haqqani has been appointed deputy leader.

Following the advisory council meeting, the Taliban said Mehsud's death will be avenged in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's home province of Punjab and no peace talks will be held with the government, despite recent efforts by Islamabad to start negotiations.