Taleban leader ‘killed in drone strike’

Intercepted militant radio communications indicate the leader of the Pakistani Taleban may have been killed in a recent US drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials have said.

The claim that the Pakistani Taleban chief was killed came this weekend from officials who said they intercepted a number of Taleban radio conversations. In about a half a dozen intercepts, the militants discussed whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on 12 January in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticised others for talking about the issue over the radio.

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Pakistani Taleban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud denied the group’s leader was killed and said he was not in the area.

In early 2010, both Pakistani and American officials said they believed a missile strike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud on the border of North and South Waziristan. They were proved wrong when videos appeared showing him still alive.