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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Pakistan Official: Taliban Rivals Involved in Shooting

By VOA News
08 August 2009

Pakistan's interior minister says the government has received reports of a shooting between two rivals for leadership of Pakistan's Taliban, and that one of them may have been killed.

Rehman Malik told reporters Saturday that fighting reportedly broke out between Taliban commanders Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud, during a meeting to decide a successor to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Another Taliban commander, Noor Sayed, denied there had been any such confrontation.

The succession meeting was reportedly held in the tribal region of South Waziristan, where Pakistan's foreign minister says Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. missile strike on Wednesday. Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters on Friday that authorities were planning to travel to Mehsud's stronghold to try to obtain 100 percent confirmation of his death.

Mehsud commanded Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a network of at least 13 groups, that is responsible for scores of attacks in Pakistan.

Earlier on Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud told several news agencies that the Taliban leader was still alive.

The White House said Friday it could not confirm Baitullah Mehsud's death. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said there is a growing consensus among credible observers that the Taliban leader has been killed.

If true, Baitullah Mehsud's death would mark a huge victory in Pakistan's fight to defeat a growing Taliban insurgency.

News organizations reported unnamed Taliban sources as saying Mehsud was killed and quickly buried in the remote, Taliban-held area of Nargusai.

In March, the U.S. government announced a $5 million reward for the militant leader.

The Pakistani government announced it would hunt him down as part its recent campaign to wipe out Taliban insurgents in the northwest. Mehsud, who is accused of orchestrating the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has been falsely reported to be dead in the past.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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