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Taliban fights over Mehsud's fortune

Taliban commanders in Pakistan are fighting a bloody battle to take control over slain leader Baitullah Mehsud's whopping 25 million pounds fortune, British media claimed on Tuesday.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 20:22 IST

Taliban commanders in Pakistan are fighting a bloody battle to take control over slain leader Baitullah Mehsud's whopping 25 million pounds fortune, British media claimed on Tuesday.

Quoting sources close to the Taliban, The Daily Telegraph reported that Mehsud had built a vast financial empire on drug and weapon smuggling, "tolls" on haulage and transport bosses, and donations from Al-Qaida and wealthy Arabs.

Mehsud, who took the Taliban's jihad into Pakistan's cities with suicide bomb attacks, is believed to have been killed last week in a US drone attack on his father-in-law's home in South Waziristan.

According to the report quoting Pakistani government officials and some Taliban sources, Mehsud, his father-in-law, wife, brother and seven of his fighters were killed in the attack in village of Zagara.

Reports of a violent struggle to seize control of his empire emerged after a pro-government Taliban leader claimed two rival commanders had been killed in a shootout at a meeting of senior figures to choose his successor. Wali-ur Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud were killed at the meeting in South Waziristan, while the group's chief trainer of suicide bombers Qari Hussein was seriously injured, reports said.

However, this was challenged on Monday when Hakimullah telephoned Pakistani and foreign media organisations to deny reports of his death and a Peshawar journalist said Rehman had also called him up on Sunday.