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Central & South Asia
Captured Taliban aide: Mehsud dead
Captured spokesman for Pakistani Taliban says group's leader died in US missile raid.
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2009 18:26 GMT

Omar, centre, was captured by a pro-government  group and handed over to security forces [AFP]

A captured spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has told his interrogators that Baitullah Mehsud, the group's leader, was killed in a US missile raid two weeks ago.

Media reports said Mauvi Omar, who was captured close to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, on Tuesday confirmed Meshud's death in the attack in South Waziristan on August 5.

"Intelligence agencies have given me information that Maulvi Omar has confirmed the death of Baitullah during interrogation," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Unnamed intelligence officials also told the Associated Press that Mehsud was dead.

Omar's comments would be the first admission by the Taliban that Meshud was killed.

Deadly assaults

Islamabad has stopped short of confirming his death, although US and Pakistani officials have said they were almost certain that Mehsud was killed in the attack and that Pakistan's Taliban movement is plagued with infighting over his succession.

In depth


 Profile: Baitullah Mehsud
 Profile: Pakistan Taliban 
 Witness: Pakistan in crisis
 
Inside Story: Pakistan's military
 Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan

Several Taliban commanders have previously told media organisations that Mehsud was still alive.

Omar was captured by a pro-government armed group in the Mohmand region on the Afghan border on Monday and handed over to government forces.

"Everybody knows that Maulvi Omar has been arrested. He was a spokesman for the Taliban," Hussain was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

"We will catch them all. All Taliban will have to face the same fate."

A former perfume seller who joined Taliban ranks as a fighter in 2004, Omar was a close aide of Mehsud, who Washington has accused of being "a key al-Qaeda facilitator" in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Omar frequently called reporters to claim responsibility for a string of deadly assaults.

Analysts say Omar was not a military chief and his capture would have no direct impact on the Taliban's operations.

Source:
Agencies
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