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Central & South Asia
Pakistan Taliban say Mehsud is dead
Hakimullah Mehsud has been chosen to replace the dead leader.
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2009 16:54 GMT
Hakimullah is said to be a powerful commander who operates from the Orakzai tribal district [AFP]

The Pakistani Taliban has admitted that Baitullah Mehsud, the group's militant leader, died after being hurt in a missile attack carried out by a US pilotless drone earlier this month.

Two Taliban commanders said on Tuesday that Meshed died on Sunday after he was wounded on August 5.

The drone attack targeted the home of his father-in-law in the ungoverned tribal district of South Waziristan that borders Afghanistan.

"Amir Sahab [Baitullah] was injured in the drone attack but he was martyred only on Sunday," Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur-Rehman told reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Hakimullah said that the Taliban had denied the death since early August because Mehsud had been only injured and under treatment. Rehman confirmed the statement.

New leaders

It is the first time that the Taliban has officially acknowledged the death of Mehsud, who heads Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a loose movement of more than a dozen armed groups.

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

Rehman, who is a cousin of Mehsud, said Hakimullah has been chosen by a Taliban shura (advisory council) as the new emir (head) of TTP, while denying reports of differences between the two.

Hakimullah said Rehman had been appointed as the Taliban commander in the territory controlled by Mehsud tribes in South Waziristan.

Hakimullah is considered a close aide of Mehsud, and a powerful commander who operates from the Orakzai tribal district, where US drones have conducted several missile strikes.

Recently the media repored deadly infighting among the Taliban over the succession issue as well as vast financial assets controlled by Mehsud.

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