ISLAMABAD - The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced it had appointed a new leader on Saturday after the militant group confirmed for the first time its former chief Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a US drone strike last week.
US forces targeted Fazlullah in a counter-terrorism strike on June 14 in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, close to the border with Pakistan.
US officials had not confirmed whether the strike was successful but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later confirmed the killing to Caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in phone calls.
In a statement sent to AFP on Saturday, TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani confirmed Fazlullah was killed in the US drone strike.
“It is a matter of pride that all leaders of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan have been martyred by infidels,” Khurasani said, referring to Fazlullah's two predecessors who were also killed in drone strikes.
The group's shura council elected Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud to replace him, he added.
The Pakistan Army has called Fazlullah's apparent death a “positive development”.
He is believed to have ordered the failed 2012 assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls' rights to schooling, and who later won the Nobel Peace Prize.
TTP was also behind the massacre of more than 150 people, including more than 100 schoolchildren, at Peshawar's Army Public School in December 2014.
The militant leader went into hiding in Afghanistan in 2009 and his death "gives relief to scores of Pakistani families who fell victims to TTP terror including the APS massacre", an Inter-Services Public Relations statement had said