Drone strike didn’t kill top leader: Pakistani Taliban

January 16th, 2012 - 12:18 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Jan 15 (IANS) The Pakistani Taliban Sunday denied reports about the killing of its top commander Hakimullah Mehsud in an US drone strike in the country’s northwest.

Pakistan’s Dawn television reported Sunday evening that Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal region.

The Taliban rejected the report as baseless and a group spokesman said that Mehsud was not in the area at the time of the strike, Xinhua reported.

Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said that Hakimullah Mehsud is alive and safe.

Dawn TV said that Pakistani security sources have confirmed Mehsud had been killed in the US drone strike on Jan 12.

The report said that the strike had targeted a vehicle near Miranshah, centre of North Waziristan, killing four people.

Local media had earlier reported that militants from Turkmenistan had been killed in the strike.

It is the second time that media has reported the death of Hakimullah Mehsud. Local and foreign media had reported in February 2010 that he was killed in a US drone strike. He later released an audio to deny the rumors.

The US State Department has offered rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the location of Hakimullah Mehsud.

He was appointed the TTP chief after the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the TTP founder, in a US drone strike in August 2009.

Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video in January 2010 with the informant-turned-suicide bomber who killed five CIA officers and two CIA security contractors a month earlier in Afghanistan’s Khost province.

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