Washington: Pakistani and US officials are increasingly convinced that the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, who was behind the suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan in December, had died from wounds sustained in a drone strike, The New York Times reported.
The newspaper said the Pakistani military, which mounted a major offensive against Mehsud and his loyalists in South Waziristan last year, said it could not confirm the report.
But government officials in the capital, Islamabad, and Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province, said they believed that there was a good chance Mehsud was dead, though they could not offer proof, the report said.
A official from the Barack Obama administration in Washington said intelligence reports over the weekend came close to a definitive conclusion -- about 90 percent certainty -- that Mehsud had died from wounds suffered in a drone strike on January 14 and that he was believed to have been buried in a tribal plot in Pakistan?s tribal areas, the paper noted.
The United States had been eager to retaliate against Mehsud after he claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a Central Intelligence Agency base in southeast Afghanistan in late December that killed five agency officers and two private contractors, The Times said.
US officials said they hoped the death of Mehsud would signal their resolve against the Taliban groups and their al Qaeda allies who have used Pakistan’s tribal areas to strike at US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the paper noted.