Top Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud Reportedly Killed in Drone Attack

August 7, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Pakistan’s Public Enemy No. 1, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who has a large bounty on his head has been killed in a U.S. missile strike, one of his commanders has reportedly declared.

“I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,” Kafayat Ullah told The Associated Press by telephone. He would not give any further details.

The militant group’s number one died along with his second wife in South Waziristan, the commander added, but he would not provide any further details.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik was also quoted as saying that Mehsud may have been killed in pilot-less US drone aircraft attack during the strike at his father-in-law’s house in Pakistan’s lawless tribal area

Mehsud has become the most wanted man in Pakistan for his role in dozens of suicide bombings in major cities over the past two years, many of them in recent weeks. The government says he has killed over 1,200 people and was the mastermind behind a number of high-profile terrorist attacks, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, a charge he denied.

According to sources, the Namaz-e-Janaza (pre-funeral prayer) for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief was held in a tribal village, and the Taliban group would elect his successor on Friday.

Mehsud is wanted by the Pakistani Government for his alleged involvement in the December 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto and other terrorist attacks, while US government had announced reward of five million US dollars for this head.

According to an NYT report, officials in Washington and Islamabad were scrambling to make sense of communications intercepts and other intelligence that seemed to indicate that Mehsud might have been killed in the strike.

By Thursday evening, American officials said they were growing increasingly confident that the Taliban leader was dead.


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