US Strike Didn't Kill Pakistan Taliban Chief

Reports of Hakimullah Mehsud's death greatly exaggerated
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2010 5:35 AM CDT
Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud arrives to meet with media in Sararogha of Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Oct. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ishtiaq Mehsud, File)

(Newser) – Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is now believed to have survived a US missile strike earlier this year, but has lost clout within the militant network, a senior intelligence official says. The revelation contradicts initial confidence among intelligence officials that the brash militant leader died in a mid-January missile attack in Waziristan. The Taliban has consistently denied Mehsud was killed, but declined to offer evidence he was alive.

The latest independent investigations and reports from multiple sources in the field led Pakistani intelligence to conclude that Mehsud had indeed survived, though with some slight injuries, the anonymous official says. But Mehsud's power has lessened, and other Taliban commanders, such as Waliur Rehman, are now overshadowing him. Two other anonymous intelligence officials said they'd reached the same conclusion, though they were vague about their evidence.

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