Officials: Taliban's Mehsud Is Dead

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2009 5:00 AM CDT
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said today that Baitullah Mehsud was dead but that authorities would travel to the site of the strike to verify the reports.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Pakistani officials have confirmed the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader, in an American drone strike early Wednesday. While there is still no concrete evidence of his death, the country's foreign minister said today that "he has been taken out." One security official told the New York Times that Mehsud has already been buried. Pakistani media are reporting that senior Taliban leaders are meeting to choose his successor.

Mehsud's network, operating from Pakistan's lawless northwest near the border with Afghanistan, is accused of a string of suicide bombings, including the massive blast that killed Benazir Bhutto in 2007. His death marks a significant accomplishment for the Obama administration and the CIA, which have made Mehsud one of its top targets. The State Department had offered a $5 million reward for his capture.