ISPR denies reports of Mehsud killing

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Islamabad, Aug.7 (ANI): Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISPR) spokesman Major General Athar Abbas on Friday said the death of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has not been confirmed.

He said evidences regarding the killing of Mehsud, the Pakistan Taliban commander, have not been ascertained.

Earlier, according to The News, Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quoted as saying that Mehsud may have been killed in pilot-less US drone aircraft attack on his residence.

Mehsud is wanted by the Pakistani Government for his alleged involvement in the December 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto and other terrorist attacks, while US government had announced reward of five million US dollars for this head.

The ISPR statement sought to rebut an NYT report that Mehsud may have been killed by a CIA missile strike on Wednesday.

According to the paper, officials in Washington and Islamabad were scrambling to make sense of communications intercepts and other intelligence that seemed to indicate that Mehsud might have been killed in the strike.

By Thursday evening, American officials said they were growing increasingly confident that the Taliban leader was dead.

Still, they cautioned that it might be weeks before they are certain, and they may never gain access to the remote location in South Waziristan to perform DNA tests.

"There is reason to believe that reports of his death may be true, but it can't be confirmed at this time," said an American official with access to classified intelligence reports.

The militant leader seemed to take pleasure in taunting Pakistani officials and holding news conferences to demonstrate the inability of officials in Islamabad to rein in his network.

He pledged to attack Washington, but American officials did not take the threat seriously. Still, his network is believed to have close ties to Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The CIA made the killing Mehsud one of its top priorities this year, partly at the urging of the Pakistan Government. (ANI)

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