More rumors surface on Hakimullah Mehsud

April 29, 2010 at 2:42 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 29 (UPI) -- Anonymous Pakistani intelligence officials added fuel to speculation surrounding the status of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, saying he is alive.

Official, though unnamed, government sources told CNN in February that Mehsud died from wounds suffered during a Jan. 14 airstrike in North Waziristan. Pakistani officials said his body was buried in late January.

U.S. aircraft launched a strike Jan. 14 on Taliban hideouts near the border between North and South Waziristan in an operation targeting Mehsud. His cousin and former leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in an August airstrike by the U.S. military.

Anonymous Pakistani intelligence officials told London's Guardian newspaper Wednesday that the Taliban leader survived the January airstrike.

"He is alive," said the official. "He had some wounds but he is basically OK."

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said in a February report that Mehsud died weeks after the January strike while on his way to seek medical treatment in Karachi, contradicting earlier time lines.

The Long War Journal, an Internet publication monitoring the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, maintains it is cautious about any claims regarding Mehsud and others.

The Journal notes that several Taliban leaders have denied that Mehsud is dead, stressing that any claims are dubious until "a body is shown or the Taliban release a propaganda tape confirming his death."

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