ak Interior Affairs Adviser says Taliban should prove their leaders are alive

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Islamabad, Aug.10 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's Adviser on Interior Affairs, Rehman Malik, has challenged the Taliban to prove that its leaders are still alive, in the wake of reports that Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud have been killed.

Malik is reported to have told the BBC that "physical evidence" showed that Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud had been killed in a US missile attack on Wednesday and added that intelligence reports have suggested that a potential successor was later killed in a shootout.

However, the Daily Times quoted a TTP commander, as saying on Sunday that he was not involved in a shootout with a rival at a Shura (council) meeting, as was being projected by the national and international media.

Waliur Rehman said the Taliban is yet to hold a meeting to decide on the new leadership of the TTP.

"There are no differences. There was no fighting. We both (Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman) are alive, and there was no special Shura meeting (to decide on a successor to Baitullah)," Waliur Rehman said by telephone.

Hakeemullah would call journalists soon to prove he too was alive, Wali added.

However, an intelligence officer claimed that Wali was lying and said some wounded had been shifted to North Waziristan.

Abdullah Mehsud, group commander of the Haji Turkistan Bhitani, was quoted by several private TV channels, as saying that Baitullah Mehsud and 40 of his aides had been killed in the US drone strike last Wednesday, and that the TTP chief was buried in his house.

He also claimed that Waliur Rehman and Hakeemullah Mehsud, two contenders for Baitullah Mehsud's position, had also been killed, while a suicide attack trainer, Qari Hussain, had been seriously injured during a clash at a Taliban Shura meeting.

Bhitani claimed that differences between TTP members were intensifying, predicting the organization would cease to exist within a month.

The overall view is that the TTP has "entered an uncertain phase due to a leadership crisis which may heighten internal conflict". (ANI)

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