Speculations rife over Pak Taliban chief's killing

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Islamabad, Feb. 1 (ANI): Speculations are rife over Pakistan-Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's death, with the Pakistan Government confirming his killing on state television and the Tehrik-i-Taliban denying it.

On Sunday, Pakistani and American officials said they were increasingly convinced that Mehsud had died from wounds sustained in a drone strike, The Dawn reports.

Meanwhile, PTV reported that Mehsud had been buried on Friday in Orakzai Agency.

Conflicting reports on the warlord's death first emerged on January 14, when Pakistani security forces were saying that Mehsud has died in bombing by unmanned US planes in North Waziristan, but Hakimullah released two audio statements within days.

Intelligence officials now say that Hakimullah could have been heavily wounded at that time, and killed on January 17.

"My sources have not confirmed whether he is dead or alive," military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said.

He added that the report was being investigated.

A Taliban spokesman has rejected the reports of Hakimullah's death.

"Hakimullah is alive and safe. The purpose of stories regarding his death is to create differences in Taliban ranks, but such people will never succeed," said Azam Tariq.

"People who are saying that Hakimullah has died should provide proof of it - we have already proved that he is alive and we have provided two audio tapes of him to all the media," he added. (ANI)

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