Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud is seen after a meeting with security forces in Sara Rogha, located in Pakistan’s South Waziristan in February 7, 2005 file photo. -Reuters Picture
Pakistani Taliban admit Mehsud killed in US strike
Tuesday, 25 Aug, 2009 | 08:45 PM PST |
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The Pakistani Taliban acknowledged Tuesday that the militants’ top leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was dead, ending weeks of claims and counterclaims over his fate following a US missile strike on his father-in-law’s home this month. Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman said that Baitullah was wounded in the missile attack but only died Sunday.
Two of Mehsud’s top aides, Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, called The Associated Press on Tuesday evening to say that he had died Sunday of wounds from the Aug. 5 strike near the Afghan border.
‘He was wounded. He got the wounds in a drone strike and he was martyred two days ago,’ Hakimullah Mehsud said. Rehman later repeated the same statement.
Both also confirmed an earlier Taliban announcement that Hakimullah Mehsud now leads the Pakistani Taliban, while Rehman would lead the movement’s wing in South Waziristan.
The Taliban had insisted for weeks that Baitullah Mehsud was still alive following the missile strike, while US and Pakistani officials said he was almost certainly dead and a leadership struggle had ensued.
Hakimullah and Rehman, who had served as top aides to Baitullah, said they were calling together, handing the telephone back and forth to each other, to dispel reports of disunity in the Taliban leadership.
They spoke to an Associated Press Reporter who had interviewed both and recognized their voices. ‘Our presence together shows that we do not have any differences,’ Rehman said. Another source said that the TTP (Therik-i-Taliban Pakistan) leadership vowed for an unity to fight last in the line of the Martyr Leader to Talibanize the Islamic World and the Whole World as its final goal.