Report: Pakistan Taliban leader dead in drone strike
The report is based on radio intercepts between Taliban groups and would certainly be welcome news if true.
The report coincided with sectarian violence - a bomb blast in eastern Pakistan that killed 14 people in a Shiite religious procession.
The claim that the Pakistani Taliban chief was killed came from officials who said they intercepted a number of Taliban radio conversations. In about a half a dozen intercepts, the militants discussed whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on Jan. 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 spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
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, both Pakistani and American officials said they believed a missile strike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud along the border of North and South Waziristan. They were proved wrong when videos appeared showing him still alive.
The Pakistani Taliban is linked to attacks against U.S. targets. They trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square in 2010 and is tied to a suicide bombing that killed seven CIA agents at an Afghan base in 2009.
We've heard these reports before, only to find them exaggerated or false. But this one seems to have a ring of truth to it if the source is accurate about the radio intercepts. No doubt an official announcement will be made one way or another after an investigation. But Meshud, by all accounts an effective and charismatic leader, will be hard to replace if those messages prove correct.