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Pakistani Taliban chief Mehsud killed in US drone attack?

world Updated: Jan 14, 2010 15:52 IST
Pakistan's lawless Waziristan

A massive US missile strike in Pakistan's lawless Waziristan tribal region today killed at least 15 militants and triggered speculation that new Tehrik-e -Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud could be among the dead.

The intense speculation by Pakistani media came as Mehsud, according to Taliban, was in Basalkot village, 70 km south of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan agency, which was hit by four missile fired by US drones.

Military authorities neither confirmed nor ruled out the possibility that Mehsud was among the dead. Several other key commanders were also reported to have been killed in the strike, the seventh this month in the area said to be infested with fighters of Haqqani network of the Taliban.

At least four missiles were fired early this morning at a house and the compound of a seminary in Basalkot village, which is located in an area along the boundary between North and South Waziristan.

Reports said some key militant commanders and foreigners were among the 15 dead. Several others were also injured.

A security official, who spoke to PTI on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media, said there were reports about Mehsud's presence in the area targeted in today's drone attack.

However, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed Mehsud, who became the chief of the outfit after the killing of his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in August last year, was safe and had left the area minutes before the missile strike.

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