Taliban leader who was declared dead lays bare Pak Govt's claims

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Peshawar, Aug. 11 (ANI): Pakistan Government's claims about the killing of the top Taliban leadership were laid bare when Baitullah Mehsud's close aide Hakimullah Mehsud, who was declared dead in an intra-group clash, himself told the media he was alive.

"Look, I am here, safe and sound," Hakimullah, 30, said in a telephone call to journalists from an undisclosed location.

He reiterated that Pak-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was alive and a videotape featuring him would be delivered to the media soon.

"Amir sahib (Baitullah) is alive. He is healthy and he will come before the media soon. There is no succession. There is no shura (meeting)," The News quoted him, as saying.

"Let the Interior Minister (Rehman Malik) prove he is dead. If the Interior Minister fails to prove Baitullah Mahsud's death, then I will produce evidence that he is alive," he challenged.

Hakimullah said the Taliban will issue a message in next three to four days to prove that Baitullah Mahsud is alive.

On Saturday, Malik had said that Pakistan's enemy no. 1 had died in a US missile strike on Wednesday, while his close aide Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a shootout that broke out on Friday between him and Waliur Rahman, another Taliban commander.

"The day before yesterday, there was credible information coming from inside the area that Baitullah Mehsud had been killed. This credible information had come right from sources based in South Waziristan, and particularly in Ladha," he said.

Rahman, appointed by Baitullah as his deputy and spokesman, was the first to react and deny reports of his death or injury.

He had insisted that Hakimullah too was all right and that they had no differences with each other. (ANI)

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