Tags: AS | Pakistan

Pakistani Officials: Taliban Chief Is Dead

Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 07:01 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud has died, the country's top civilian security official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. It was the government's first categorical confirmation of the death of the feared militant, whose passing is likely to weaken, but not vanquish, the al-Qaida-linked insurgent network he led.

Reports of Mehsud's death emerged after a spate of U.S. missiles hit his stronghold in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt in mid-January. Mehsud was said to have died of wounds suffered in one of the strikes in the Waziristan region — another big victory for the CIA-led missile campaign that killed Mehsud's predecessor just six months ago.

The Taliban have repeatedly denied his death, but backed off an initial promise to prove the 28-year-old was still alive.

In a response to an AP query, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, wrote, "Yes, he is dead," while a senior intelligence official concurred separately. Neither gave details as to when or how the militant died.

The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

In late January, a tribal elder told the AP that he attended Mehsud's funeral in the Mamuzai area of the Orakzai tribal region after Mehsud died at his in-laws' home. Some local media reports, citing unnamed Taliban sources, said Mehsud died more recently in the Multan area of central Pakistan on his way to receive medical treatment in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi.

In the first few days after the mid-January missile strikes, the Taliban released a pair of audiotapes believed to carry Mehsud's voice, in which he insisted he was fine. They have stopped offering additional evidence, one reason U.S. counterterrorism officials also are increasingly certain he died.

Still, Mehsud has been mistakenly reported dead before.

After his predecessor, fellow tribesman Baitullah Mehsud, died in an August missile strike, the Pakistani interior minister was among those who claimed Hakimullah was killed in a succession struggle. But the militant met with reporters, on camera, in the weeks afterward and went on to lead a surge of bomb attacks across the country that left more than 600 people dead.

The Taliban also denied Baitullah Mehsud's death for weeks until the succession question was settled.

Hakimullah Mehsud has been considered a particularly ruthless Taliban fighter with grand ambitions.

He appeared in a video with a Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees in eastern Afghanistan. After that Dec. 30 attack, the U.S. temporarily ramped up its missile campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas.

There are reports that commanders already are lining up to vie for his position as Taliban chief.

Among the potential successors are Waliur Rehman, the deputy Taliban commander who oversaw operations in the South Waziristan region. The Pakistani army is waging an offensive in that Afghan border area against the group that has damaged much of its infrastructure.

Another name being floated is that of Maulvi Toofan, a Taliban commander reported to be based in Orakzai, a region gaining importance as militants flee there from South Waziristan.

Malik, the interior minister, also said Wednesday that Pakistan is investigating reports that Qari Hussain, another Hakimullah deputy, had also been killed. If confirmed, Hussain's death would be a significant blow to the group because he was in charge of training suicide bombers and had close ties to other militant networks.

Also Wednesday, a Pakistani army Cobra helicopter gunship crashed in the remote Tirah Valley of Pakistan's Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.

Another army official said the helicopter's pilot and gunner are missing and feared dead. He said the crash appeared to have been caused by either bad weather or a mechanical failure. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

——

Ahmad reported from Islamabad.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions: Obama Must be Stopped on Amnesty

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 09:08 AM

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama Thursday criticized President Barack Obama's reported plans to  . . .

US Says Russia Firing Artillery at Ukraine Military

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 18:51 PM

The United States said on Thursday that Russia was firing artillery across its border with Ukraine to target Ukrainian m . . .

Texas National Guard Could Get Powers to Arrest

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 07:59 AM

The Texas National Guard could acquire the power to make arrests after Gov. Rick Perry announced plans to deploy 1,000 t . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved