Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Reports of Warlord Killed; Drone Targets Al-Qaeda and Taliban Militants in Pakistan

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Reports of Warlord Killed; Drone Targets Al-Qaeda and Taliban Militants in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan De Luce of AFP

US AND Pakistani officials were yesterday investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud may have been killed after a US drone strike.

If confirmed, the death of Mehsud would be a coup for Islamabad and Washington, which has placed a 5.96 million bounty on his head and branded him "a key al-Qaeda facilitator" in Pakistan's tribal belt. "There is some reason to believe Mehsud may be dead but it can not be confirmed at this time for certain," a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In Peshawar, a Pakistani military official said authorities were trying to confirm the report.

"We are investigating," the official said. Pakistani officials on Thursday said Mehsud's wife was killed in an attack from an unmanned US aircraft, an asset the United States had regularly deployed to target al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan.

The US Central Intelligence Agency, with the tacit cooperation of Islamabad, has carried out dozens of attacks in Pakistan using unmanned Predator and Reaper drones in the past year, but it declines to publicly discuss the strikes. …

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