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Pak's Taliban deny Zawahiri report

Pakistan's Taliban movement denied a US television report that Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri may have been wounded or killed in a missile strike this week.

world Updated: Aug 02, 2008 22:15 IST

Pakistan's Taliban movement on Saturday denied a US television report that Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri may have been wounded or killed in a missile strike this week.

The Pakistani military said it had no information on the report by CBS, which said it had obtained an intercepted letter from a Taliban commander urgently requesting a doctor to treat the Egyptian.

"This is totally baseless. The claim is rubbish, there is no truth in this," Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban Movement) told AFP.

"Baitullah did not write any letter to anybody. He never asked for any help or assistance," said Omar, referring to Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, who has been linked by Pakistani and US officials to Al-Qaeda.

Pakistani officials have previously said that a July 28 missile strike in the South Waziristan tribal area killed Al-Qaeda's top chemical and biological weapons expert, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar.

CBS said it appeared Zawahiri had also been targeted in the attack.

"There is no evidence or information in this regard. We have no reliable information," chief Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

A senior military official based in northwestern Pakistan said he was "investigating the authenticity" of the report and added that authorities were trying to obtain Mehsud's alleged letter.

An intelligence official based in South Waziristan said they had heard rumours about Zawahiri being targeted a few days ago "and we checked it but we have not been able to confirm it.