Pakistani Taliban chief again reported killed

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The Independent Online

The Pakistani military is investigating reports that Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has died from injuries sustained in an attack by a drone aircraft.

Mehsud's compound was targeted by the US military on 14 January; he was believed to have been injured as a result. His death, which has been denied by the Taliban, would be a major breakthrough for both Pakistan and the US.

Hakimullah first came to prominence as a Taliban commander in 2007, and has proved to be a highly skilled and media-savvy leader ever since. In one interview with Pakistan's Geo TV, he offered a reporter a choice of two gifts: a captured Nato Humvee or a Jeep stolen from the UN.

In 2007, he masterminded an attack on the Pakistani army which resulted in the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers. Last year, he appeared in a video alongside an al-Qa'ida double-agent who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan.

Twice in the past year Mehsud has been reported killed, once by a missile fired by a US drone, but both times he later made an appearance, in a Taliban video and at several press conferences, to prove the reports wrong.

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