Taliban: Baitullah Mehsud alive;
Taliban: Baitullah Mehsud alive; US strike in North Waziristan
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the tribal areas. Map from PBS' Frontline. Click to view.
The Taliban denied that its commander in Pakistan died of natural causes. Baituallah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and warlord in South Waziristan, was reported to have died yesterday of complications related to diabetes.
The Taliban "media felt annoyed by some media reports about death of Baitullah Mehsud," Geo TV reported. Instead, the news agency said Baitullah "offered Eid prayers in some undisclosed area of Waziristan."
Sources told The Long War Journal yesterday that the reports were false and designed to spread misinformation. The Taliban spokesman said the reports were false. "Some elements were spreading false news on instructions of agencies," Geo TV paraphased the Taliban spokesman as saying, indicating that Pakistani intelligence was spreading misinformation.
Baitullah is reported to be ill, however. "He is a diabetic under treatment and he soon will be alright," said Taliban commander Rahim Burki.
Taliban leaders are rumored to be vying to succeed Baitullah in case he does die. Qari Hussain, a senior lieutenant to Baitullah, is said to be lobbying for the position. Qari ran a suicide camp in Spinkai in South Waziristan, where children were trained to conduct attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pakistani military destroyed the camp in an operation in January.
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