Pakistan Taliban leader reported dead in US strike

Posted by on Jan 15, 2012 at 11:45 am
Hakimullah Mehsud

Intercepted militant radio communications indicate the leader of the Pakistani Taliban may have been killed in a recent U.S. drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials said Sunday. A Taliban official denied that.

The report coincided with sectarian violence — a bomb blast in eastern Pakistan that killed 14 people in a Shiite religious procession.

The claim that the Pakistani Taliban chief was killed came from officials who said they intercepted a number of Taliban radio conversations. In about a half a dozen intercepts, the militants discussed whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on Jan. 12 in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud denied the group’s leader was killed and said he was not in the area where the drone strike occurred.

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