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Injured Fazlullah might be close to death

world Updated: Jul 11, 2009 17:13 IST

Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat valley, has been critically injured in air strikes and is "close to death", a media report has said.

The BBC has reported that information it gathered about Fazlullah through interviews in Swat confirmed statements from senior government and military officials that the Taliban commander had been injured.

"Maulana Fazlullah was actually hit in two air strikes, and is critically wounded," a resident of Mingora, the main city of Swat, told BBC.

"He is now stranded in Imamdheri without any access to medical assistance and is close to death," said the man, who has close contacts with militants and has been keeping a watch on their movements in Swat.

The man also confirmed that another senior Taliban leader, Shah Dauran, was killed in an air strike as stated by the army. BBC said interviews with other local residents corroborated claims that Fazlullah had been seriously injured. Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said recently that the army had information that Fazlullah had been injured.

The Taliban have released an audio message purportedly issued by Fazlullah in a bid to prove that he was not injured. In the message, aired by a TV channel, a man is heard saying that the government will not be allowed to restore its writ in Malakand division, which includes Swat.