Death of Pakistani Taliban chief in U.S. strike not confirmed

08:09, January 15, 2010      

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The reports of the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief in a U.S. drone attack in the northwestern tribal area on Thursday were not confirmed yet.

Local TV reports said earlier that the chief of the banned outfit Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakimullah Mehsud and three top commanders were among 12 killed Thursday morning in a U.S. airstrike hitting a compound in Pasalkot village of North Waziristan agency near the Afghan border.

According to Peshawar-based journalist and analyst of tribal areas Mushtaq Yousafzai, Hakimullah Mehsud was in a Madrassah (religious school) adjacent to a house in Pasalkot as the local sources confided to him.

On the condition of anonymity local sources in North Waziristan said that the TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed in the morning drone attack that took life of 10 militants, in North Waziristan.

A local official while insisting on concealing his identity confirmed the attack but declined to confirm killing of the TTP chief.

According to local media, the targeted house was belonging to tribal man Muhammad Yaqoob that was lying adjacent to the Madrassah, which was considered as a training center of the militants.

Taliban sources also confirmed that Hakimullah Mehsud was present in the area Wednesday night. However, they said that he had left the area early Thursday morning before the missile hit the Madrassah.

Meanwhile, TTP Spokesman Tariq Azam has rejected killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, saying he is alive and well.

Hakimullah, 32, was a close aide to the previous TTP Chief Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a drone attack in August 2009 along with his wife.

Hakimullah Mehsud has been appointed as TTP chief after a week of the killing of Baitullah.

This was the seventh attack this year that hit North Waziristan. More than 700 people have died in the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008.

The Pakistani officials including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi opposes such attacks as it causes anger in local population and could damage relations of Islamabad with Washington.

Source: Xinhua
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