Hakimullah denies his death in a fresh audio recording

Hakimullah denies his death in a fresh audio recording


The recording was provided by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to media in northwest Pakistan a day after another audio message in which Mehsud said he was alive but did not mention Thursday's drone strike in Waziristan tribal region that triggered reports of his death.

Mehsud said in the new recording that some people had speculated after the release of yesterday's audio message that it might have been "pre-recorded and old" as he had not mentioned a date.

"I, Hakimullah Mehsud, make this statement on January 16 to all mujahideen that I am alive and safe and sound. I was neither injured nor killed in a drone attack," he said.
"The unrest among the mujahideen forced me to declare that I am not injured and not martyred. I was not there at the time of the attack," he added.

Missiles fired by US drones killed at least 15 militants in a Taliban training camp in Waziristan on Thursday and security officials had said Mehsud might be among the dead.
Mehsud dismissed reports of his death as the "propaganda" of enemies, infidels (unbelievers) that was aimed at weakening the Taliban. The Pakistan government will be responsible for "any dangerous steps" taken by the Taliban in retaliation against further drone attacks, he warned.

Earlier, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq and other commanders too had denied reports of Mehsud's death.

Mehsud assumed leadership of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone strike in August last year.

The US stepped up drone attacks in North Waziristan after a suicide bomber linked to the Taliban killed seven CIA operatives at a forward base in the neighbouring Khost province in Afghanistan. Two US drone strikes yesterday killed 11 militants in North Waziristan.

The Taliban recently released a video in which the bomber responsible for the Khost attack was shown with Hakimullah Mehsud. The bomber said the attack was carried out to avenge the death of Baitullah Mehsud.

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