Taliban leaders warned the Pakistani government Tuesday that it would retaliate if U.S. consulate employee Raymond Davis, accused of killing two Pakistanis, is released into U.S. custody, news agencies in Pakistan are reporting.
The case has strained the fragile relationship between Washington and Pakistan.
Sen. John Kerry left for Pakistan on Tuesday in an effort to negotiate for Davis' release. He is being jailed in the Pakistani city of Lahore for the shootings last month.
Davis said he shot the two gunmen when they were attempting to rob him and kill him. But details of the case are in dispute and the U.S. has not commented on the specifics of the shooting.
President Obama was asked about the case in his Tuesday news conference. He said Davis has diplomatic immunity and should be released. He declined to discuss ongoing negotiations to accomplish that.
Pakistani officials, however, are fearful of a backlash in their nation. Pakistani citizens have taken to the streets burning US flags and asking that Davis face trial. Taliban leaders are also threatening the government.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said Tuesday that “if (Pakistani) rulers hand him over to America then we will target these rulers. If Pakistani courts cannot punish Davis then they should hand him over to us.”
“We will give exemplary punishment to the killer Davis,” Tariq said.
On Thursday, the United States is expected to present a petition to a Lahore court to certify that Davis has diplomatic immunity and should be released.