Report: Taliban Chief Killed in U.S. Strike

Pakistani officials say a U.S. drone strike killed Taliban chief, but the group denies this.

Elad Benari,

US drones take off from US ship
US drones take off from US ship
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons (US Navy

A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan may have killed the leader of the Taliban, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.

The claim that the Pakistani Taliban chief was killed was made by Pakistani intelligence officials who said they intercepted a number of Taliban radio conversations. In about a half a dozen intercepts, the officials told AP, the militants discussed whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on January 12 in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud denied the group’s leader was killed and said he was not in the area where the drone strike occurred.

In early 2010, Pakistani and American officials said they believed a missile strike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud along the border of North and South Waziristan. They were later proven wrong when videos appeared showing him still alive.

Meanwhile, a bomb that went off in a mosque on Sunday killed 14 people, AP reported. The attack was the latest in a series of sectarian attacks in Pakistan.

The attack occurred as hundreds of Pakistani Shiites gathered in the town of Khanpur in Punjab province for a traditional procession to mark the end of 40 days of mourning, following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered seventh-century figure.

The explosion went off as the mourners left a mosque, a District Police Chief told AP. The bomb appeared to have been planted ahead of time in the path of the procession, he said.

The Pakistani Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups have in the past claimed responsibility for the bombings of Shiite religious sites and ceremonies, but no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.