A Pakistani government official said the U.S. drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud on Friday has torpedoed potential peace talks between the Pakistan government and the Taliban.
"This is not just the killing of one person, it's the death of all peace efforts," Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, according to the BBC.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed Saturday that its leader was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the South Waziristan tribal area, confirmed Mehsud’s death to the Associated Press.
"We are proud of the martyrdom of Hakimullah Mehsud," Tariq told the AP by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We will continue our activities."
Mehsud had a $5 million U.S. bounty for his role in the 2009 bombing of a CIA base in Afghanistan and the failed 2010 car bombing in Times Square.
The strike on Mehsud came as the Pakistani government is attempting to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban faction, known as Tehrik-i-Taliban.
Pakistan’s information minister initially criticized the U.S. for only jeopardizing the peace talks, according to the AP.
"What we can say is this time the drone [strike] was on the dialogue, but we will not let the dialogue die," Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said.
The BBC reported that Pakistan had summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest the drone strike that killed Mehsud.
Pakistan’s government has long expressed public opposition to U.S. drone strikes in its tribal areas, although the Washington Post reported last month on documents showing the government secretly endorsing the program.
Mehsud's death is a serious blow to the Pakistani Taliban, but it also prompts the risk that the group will ramp up its violence in retaliation.
Mehsud and the four others killed in Friday’s drone attack were buried on Saturday in an undisclosed location, Taliban commanders told the AP.
The Taliban’s Shura Council, which is comprised of the group’s commanders, gathered in an undisclosed location in the North Waziristan tribal area in order to choose a new leader.
This story was updated at 12:07 p.m.