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Leader of Pakistani Taliban reported dead in U.S. drone strike

Nov. 1, 2013 at 4:08 PM   |   Comments

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ISLAMABAD, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Taliban in Pakistan, was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, one of the group's leaders says.

The BBC said one of the Pakistani Taliban's senior officials had confirmed Mehsud's death. Intelligence sources told the British broadcaster four missiles were fired at Mehsud's vehicle, and a total of five people were killed, including two of his bodyguards.

Mehsud was traveling from a meeting at a mosque in North Waziristan, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported, citing sources in the country's intelligence services. Taliban officials told the newspaper his funeral would be held Saturday in North Waziristan.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Mehsud has been reported dead many times since 2009, when he became the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

The latest reports of Mehsud's death comes at a sensitive time, The Wall Street Journal said. The Pakistani government has been trying to bring the Taliban into negotiations and has also become increasingly angry about U.S. drone strikes on its territory.

The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on Mehsud. But the BBC said he often appeared eager to talk to the media.

"Don't be afraid, we all have to die one day," he told the British broadcaster in an interview last month.

Mehsud, born Jamshed Mehsud in South Waziristan, was believed to be 34. He adopted the name Hakimullah, Arabic for one with knowledge, after becoming a militant jihadi.

In the Taliban, he had a reputation for his fighting skills. He succeeded Baitullah Mehsud, a member of the same clan, in 2009.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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