Taliban say Baitullah Mehsud alive
Hakeemullah, Wali ‘killed in infighting’
* State TV says TTP leaders were killed during meeting on selection of new chief
* Rehman Malik confirms crossfire
* Taliban official claims govt has fabricated reports of infighting
LAHORE: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Hakeemullah Mehsud and Taliban commander Waliur Rehman have been killed in a gunbattle that erupted during a meeting to determine the future of the organisation, PTV reported on Saturday, a few hours after Hakeemullah claimed Baitullah Mehsud is “alive”.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters the government had received reports that only one of the two rivals for the leadership of the Taliban was killed. “The infighting was between Waliur Rehman and Hakeemullah Mehsud,” he said, adding, “We have information that one of them has been killed. Who was killed we will be able to say after confirming.” According to PTV, Rehman killed Hakeemullah after the latter was appointed the new TTP chief.
Not true: Meanwhile, a Taliban official in South Waziristan, where the meeting took place, told Reuters the government had fabricated reports of the infighting. Noor Said, deputy spokesman under Baitullah, said: “There was no fighting in the shura. Both Waliur Rehman and Hakeemullah are safe and sound.” However, an intelligence officer denied this, saying he had reports that Hakeemullah was dead.
Earlier in the day, Hakeemullah had telephoned journalists to deny that Baitullah had been killed in a missile strike by US drone aircraft on Wednesday. Terming the reports as “ridiculous”, he said it was ploy hatched by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to force Baitullah into the open and assassinate him. However, senior government officials have expressed scepticism, demanding proof that Baitullah is alive.
Separately, senior Taliban commander Qari Hussain, maintaining that Baitullah is alive, has threatened to unleash a wave of suicide attacks to “avenge the government-sponsored propaganda against our leader”. daily times monitor/reuters/staff report