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Taliban confirms Mehsud’s death
PESHAWAR, FEB 9 (Agencies):
Published on 9 Feb. 2010 11:38 PM IST
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Keeping mum for weeks, Taliban sources have finally confirmed the death of the Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud on Tuesday. According to Taliban sources in the volatile Orakzai tribal region, the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) died a week ago due to neck injury near Multan when he was being taken for treatment to Karachi from South Waziristan. US and Pakistani officials had been saying that Mehsud had died due to injuries sustained in the pre-dawn drone strike at Shaktoi area of South Waziristan on January 14. Taliban sources also said that Mehsud was in a state of coma after being injured in the drone strike. Sources said that Maulvi Noor Jamal, a native of Orakzai agency, is now acting in his place while the announcement of full-time Mehsud’s successor will be made in a Taliban shura (meeting) to be held in next few days in Orakzai agency. Noor Jamal, a close associate of Hakimullah, was appointed as Taliban chief of the Kurram tribal region. After the Pakistan’s military launched an offensive in South Waziristan, he was given an additional charge of the Orakzai tribal region. Last week, a video of Jamal was aired on Pakistani TV stations, showing him flogging three people. Last Sunday, Pakistan state television reported that Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack two weeks ago, a claim which was quickly denied by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The report said that Hakimullah Mehsud, a target of CIA-directed drone strikes over the past month, has already been buried. Taliban denied that Mehsud had been killed and challenged reporters to provide proof of it. Mehsud, 32, rose to prominence as mastermind of attacks on NATO convoys in Peshawar and Khyber tribal region, near the Afghan border. After the death of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009 in US missile strike, Hakimullah became the head of Pakistani Taliban. Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban, died last August but it took the Taliban a number of weeks to admit that he had been hit in the missile strike which killed him. Over the past month, the US has carried out frequent drone attacks in the tribal belt. The drone attacks seems to have been triggered by the 30 December suicide bombing of a CIA base in southern Afghanistan that killed seven Americans spies, including the base chief. After the incident, Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian doctor alleged to have killed seven CIA agents in a suicide bombing. Pakistan publicly criticizes drone attacks, saying they fuel support for the militants. But observers say in private the authorities have given the go-ahead for the strikes.

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