Hakimullah Mehsud – dead or alive?

Hakimullah Mehsud – dead or alive?
hakimullahOn Thursday, the rumours circulated widely that the Americans had got their man – the leader of Pakistan Taliban had been killed in a drone attack. From Peshawar to Islamabad, officials speculated Hakimullah Mehsud was dead.

There’s no doubt he was the main target of Thursday’s attack by the unmanned drone strike on a compound on the North/South Waziristan border. Ten militants were killed but the Taliban insisted that Hakimullah Mehsud had left the area more than forty minutes before and was safe and well.

However sources in the area that night reported that the Taliban was blocking access in the area, which led to suggestions that their leader was, if not dead, then seriously wounded.

On Friday, Taliban spokesmen were being quoted as saying that Hakimullah had been injured in the attack, had suffered head injuries but had been moved out of the area to receive medical treatment.

That set alarm bells ringing. The former leader of the Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Mehsud died last August but it took the Taliban a number of weeks to admit that he had been hit in the missile strike which killed him.

Hakilmullah issued an audio tape saying he was well. The problem was he gave no indication when the message was recorded. The Taliban responded on Saturday by releasing another tape. This time Mehsud said:

“Today is the 16th of January. I want to confirm to all my mujahideen brothers that I am Hakimullah and I am alive and in good health thanks be to God and that I was not injured in the rocket attack.”

The use of drone strikes in Pakistan is controversial. They have killed more innocent people than militants, yet the Americans believe it is an effective way of targeting people hiding out in the remote areas of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

On Sunday, at least 15 people were killed when four missiles were fired into a house in Shaktoi, South Waziristan. It’s thought most were Uzbek fighters working with the Taliban.

There will be more drone attacks, that’s for sure. And Hakimullah Mehsud remains the number one target.
By Alan Fisher


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