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'Pak Taliban chief Hakimulah may be alive'

world Updated: Apr 29, 2010 16:58 IST

Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud survived a US drone attack in January this year, but may have lost his clout in the militant hierarchy, according to a senior ISI official.

A senior intelligence official told the Guardian newspaper that he had seen the video footage of the attack on Mehsud, but other inputs had since confirmed that the militant leader had survived.

"He is alive," the official told the paper. "He had suffered some wounds but is basically OK."

Mehsud was reported to have been killed in a CIA drone strike in South Waziristan and Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed he had been killed, the death was never confirmed by Taliban or US and Pakistani intelligence.

Guardian said, that Mehsud's apparent survival would be a blow to the CIA, which had intensified efforts to kill the young and flamboyant commander after he appeared in a video footage alongside the Jordanian al-Qaeda operative who killed seven top CIA commanders in a base in southern Afghanistan.

But, Pakistani intelligence officials say that Mehsud's clout within the TTP has receded as other Taliban commanders like Wali-ur-Rehman are now overshadowing him.

The Pakistan Taliban never confirmed his slaying. The TTP is known to deny deaths of militant commanders. The outlawed organisation took three weeks to confirm the killing of Mehsud's predecessor Baitullah.

American Predator and Reaper armed drones have intensified their missile onslaughts in the tribal areas where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are believed to be sheltering and between January 2009 and March 2010, the unmanned drones have killed 690 terrorists.

The Washington Post reported this week that CIA had started using more compact missile to hit the terrorists in an effort to reduce civilian casualties.