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Taliban commander claims taking over TTP leadership

2009-08-20 13:04 BJT

Special Report: Afghan presidential election |

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- A top Taliban commander said Wednesday he had taken over as acting head of the group but denied reports that the Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud had been killed, local media reported Thursday.

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, one of Mehsud's deputies, said Pakistan Taliban held a shura meeting and named him as their leader, local newspaper The Nation reported.

American and Pakistani officials believe that the banned group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mehsud was killed on Aug. 5 in a missile attack in South Waziristan tribal agency near the Afghan border.

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad said Baitullah Mehsud is alive but he is seriously ill.

He said two other senior Taliban leaders reportedly vying for the successor of Baitullah Mehsud -- Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman -- had endorsed his leadership.

Otherwise, Pakistan Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar who was taken into custody on Monday reportedly said that Mehsud was killed in the United States drone missile strike.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua