Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pakistani Taliban's leader 'ill'

The Pakistani Taliban's leader Baitullah Mehsud is gravely ill, his top aide has told the BBC.

Maulan Nur Syed denied this was linked in any way to claims Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US missile strike on Wednesday in a remote tribal area.

Both the US and Pakistan earlier said their intelligence suggested Baitullah Mehsud was killed in the attack.

There were also reports of a major gun battle between potential successors to Baitullah Mehsud after the strike.

On Sunday, Maulana Nur Syed told the BBC the Pakistani Taliban leader had not been at the house that was attacked by the US missile.

But it is thought that by making this statement, the Taliban are preparing the ground for an announcement that Pakistan's most wanted man is in fact dead, the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says.

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