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With rival's death, Pakistani Taliban leader sheds key threat

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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Pakistan’s efforts to zero in on Baitullah Mehsud, chief of the Pakistani Taliban, suffered a blow Tuesday after the murder of one of the main rivals within his own clan.

The killing of Qari Zainuddin, who in recent weeks had been mounting serious efforts to Mr. Mehsud’s authority, underscores the urgency of an impending military offensive on Mehsud’s base of South Waziristan, according to analysts. (Click here to read about why eliminating Mehsud would hurt the Taliban and here to see why Zainuddin posed such a big threat to him.)

Ismail Khan, the Peshawar bureau chief of Dawn, an English daily, says the killing is of great “symbolic significance.” But he adds that the government can take heart in the fact that Mr. Zainuddin’s brother has decided to fill the breach.

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