Washington, Oct 2: Suspense still prevails over the death of Pakistan Taliban's (TTP) top commander Bailullah Mehsud, even as the country's intelligence officials cast doubts over the reports claiming he died of a prolonged illness on Tuesday night.
The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) quoted one of Mehsud's sub-commanders Sami Yousafzai as saying that he had met with the militant leader on Tuesday, Sep 30 night and that "his blood sugar level was improving, and with it, his general health". Mehsud is said to be in his mid to late 30s, but is believed to suffer from multiple health issues, including diabetes and kidney problems.
Just hours after unconfirmed reports of his death surfaced late on Tuesday, a senior Pakistani security official said that the Taliban branch in Pakistan was "scrambling to appoint two new deputies in a possible preparation for a succession."
"Unless someone produces a body, I can't confirm Baitullah Mehsud's death. But, we are witnessing intelligence reports along the lines of the Taliban scrambling to appoint two new deputies. Is this the Taliban preparation for a succession? That is the question we are asking, but there are no answers as yet," said a senior Pakistani security official.
The report about Mehsud's death was first flashed by privately owned GEO TV channel and pan-Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera, citing unnamed security sources in Pakistan.
Only hours after the news broke out, a TTP spokesman denied them and claimed that Mehsud was keeping well.