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 Pakistani Taliban leader 'killed'

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PostSubject: Pakistani Taliban leader 'killed'   Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:40 pm


Pakistani Taliban leader 'killed'



Pakistani TV says the man ringed with a red circle is Baitullah Mehsud


There are growing indications that Pakistan's most wanted man, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, has been killed by a US missile.
A Mehsud aide reportedly confirmed that he had died when a drone attacked the house where he was staying.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh said the government was seeking "ground verification".
Taliban leaders have gathered in South Waziristan to choose a successor, local sources have told the BBC.
See a map of the region




ANALYSIS

Orla Guerin, BBC News, Islamabad

Mehsud's death would be seen in Pakistan as a huge step forward.
He has been the country's most wanted man, blamed for a string of suicide attacks and also accused of being behind the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. He has also been on America's wanted list, with a price of $5m on his head. He is seen there as an al-Qaeda facilitator.
In the past month or so, both the Pakistanis and Americans have been working hard to tighten the net around him, with US drone strikes but also with air strikes by the Pakistani authorities.
If reports of his death are confirmed, this will be seen here as the elimination of a key enemy of this country and of a man who has caused the killing of hundreds of civilians.
Three names are under consideration, says Abdul Hai Kakar, a BBC reporter based in Peshawar.
Hakimullah Mehsud, Maulana Azmatullah and Wali-ur-Rehman were all mentioned as possible successors.
People living close to the scene of the missile attack in South Waziristan told the BBC Baitullah Mehsud had been killed with his wife early on Wednesday.
The remoteness of the location is contributing to the delay in establishing the facts, the BBC's Orla Guerin reports from Islamabad.
A spokesman for US President Barack Obama said the US could not confirm the death, but added that "there seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead".
The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug", and said Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.
Previous reports of Baitullah Mehsud's death have proved to be unfounded. He was said to be suffering from an illness for which he was taking medication.
South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who has been blamed by Pakistan for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country.
'Hit on the roof'
Kafayat Ullah, described as an aide to Baitullah Mehsud, told the Associated Press by telephone on Friday that his leader had been killed along with his second wife by a US missile. He gave no further details.



Ordinary garden tea party talk except for two things - the venue and the host - we are in Pakistan's tribal region of South Waziristan. Our host is the region's top Islamic militant, Baitullah Mehsud


Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC reporter on meeting
Baitullah Meshud in 2008



Tea with Mehsud
Profile: Baitullah Mehsud
Long war against the Taliban

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief's father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).
At the time of the attack, the Taliban leader was said to be on the roof, local people told our Peshawar reporter.
Some who had reportedly seen his body said that it had been half-destroyed by the blast.
Baitullah Mehsud was buried in the nearby village of Nardusai, the witnesses told our reporter.
Several of Baitullah Mehsud's relatives were also injured, local people told the BBC earlier.
Pakistan's foreign minister told reporters in Islamabad that "to be 100% sure [of the Taliban leader's death], we are going for ground verification".
One factor complicating verification of his death is the lack of photographs of the Taliban leader.




Pakistan's foreign minister: "We are going for ground verification"

When the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan went to interview him in South Waziristan in May 2008, he found himself sitting down before a short, plump, bearded man, reluctant to allow his picture to be taken.
Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, told the BBC that even if DNA could be recovered at the scene, the authorities did not have a sample from a male relative of the Taliban leader to compare it with.
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PostSubject: ???? ???? ???? wtf?   Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:12 pm

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