Baitullah alive, safe: Deputy

Baitullah alive, safe: Deputy

Militant leader in hiding as part of Talibans war strategy

Baitullah alive, safe: Deputy

Hakimullah Mehsud, who heads Taliban fighters in the Orakzai tribal region, told the media that Baitullah Mehsud was “alive and in a safe place”.

The 35-year-old militant leader had gone into hiding as part of the Taliban’s “war strategy,” Hakimullah claimed.

The Pakistan government said on Friday that it had received reports from intelligence agencies about Mehsud’s death in a drone attack on his father-in-law’s home in South Waziristan on Wednesday. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Mehsud had “been taken out”. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Mehsud’s death could be confirmed only after receiving material evidence.

He said the government planned to exhume the body of Mehsud’s brother, buried at Bannu in the North West Frontier Province, to obtain DNA samples that could be used for possible tests.

Analysts noted that Hakimullah was among militant commanders tipped to take over as chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and said his claim could be aimed at holding up the naming of Mehsud’s successor by the Taliban ‘shura’ or council of leaders.

Leading security analyst Mehmood Shah, who has served in the tribal areas, said the Taliban could be covering up the news of Mehsud’s death as they are facing problems in electing a new chief.

Hakimullah also claimed that the Pakistani intelligence agencies, the military intelligence and the US Central Intelligence Agency had attempted to lure Mehsud out of hiding but they had failed.

“Baitullah Mehsud has adopted a war strategy like Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar to lead his men from an undisclosed location,” he said.
He claimed Mehsud would soon release a video message or talk to the media to deny reports of his death.

A former parliamentarian from South Waziristan, Maulana Mirajuddin, too claimed reports about Mehsud’s death were false.

Mirajuddin, considered to be close to militant commanders in Waziristan, told reporters in Islamabad that according to his information, Mehsud had not been killed in the drone attack.

Meanwhile, the driver of Mehsud, who was killed in the drone attack, was buried in his hometown of Mardan in the NWFP, local residents said on Saturday.

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