New chief of Pakistani Taliban may be dead: US

Last Updated: Saturday, October 3, 2009 - 13:45

Islamabad: US intelligence agencies believe the newly named leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud, might have been killed in a gunfight with a rival faction weeks ago.

Militants tapped Hakimullah to replace the group`s previous leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed by a missile fired from a CIA-piloted drone aircraft in his South Waziristan stronghold on the Afghan border August 5.
Hakimullah`s death, which officials said has yet to be confirmed definitively, would be another setback for the group, the Nation reported Saturday.

"We`re pretty clear that we think he`s dead," a US defence official said of Hakimullah. A counterterrorism official said, "While there`s no final confirmation of his death, it`s a distinct possibility."
The officials, who spoke about the intelligence on condition of anonymity, said Hakimullah was believed to have been shot weeks ago during a clash with a rival group in South Waziristan. But US intelligence agencies are still reviewing information to make a final call.

IANS

First Published: Saturday, October 3, 2009 - 13:45

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