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Pakistan Reports Death Of Top Taliban Leader, Baitullah Mehsud


Pakistani officials say they are fairly certain the country's most wanted man, Taliban commander and al-Qaida facilitator Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a U.S. missile strike this week in South Waziristan.

If true, Mehsud's death would mark a huge victory in Pakistan's fight to defeat a growing Taliban insurgency responsible for scores of attacks.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters that intelligence sources said Mehsud was killed along with one of his wives in a U.S. drone attack on Wednesday. But he said authorities will travel to Mehsud's stronghold of South Waziristan to try to get 100 percent confirmation.

The White House said Friday it could not confirm Mehsud's death. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said there is a growing consensus among credible observers that the Taliban leader has been killed.

News organizations reported unnamed Taliban sources as saying Mehsud was killed and then quickly buried (in the remote, Taliban-held area of Nargusai). Reports also quoted unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials as saying Taliban leaders are already meeting to name Mehsud's successor.

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