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Pakistan Taliban leader reported dead in US strike

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Intercepted militant radio communications indicate the leader of the Pakistani Taliban may have been killed in a recent U.S. drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials said Sunday. A Taliban official denied that.

The report coincided with sectarian violence — a bomb blast in eastern Pakistan that killed 14 people in a Shiite religious procession.

The claim that the Pakistani Taliban chief was killed came from officials who said they intercepted a number of Taliban radio conversations. In about a half a dozen intercepts, the militants discussed whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on Jan. 12 in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman denied the group’s leader was killed and said he was not in the area where the drone strike occurred.

In early 2010, both Pakistani and American officials said they believed a missile strike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud along the border of North and South Waziristan. They were proved wrong when videos appeared showing him still alive.

The Pakistani Taliban is linked to attacks against U.S. targets. They trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square in 2010 and is tied to a suicide bombing that killed seven CIA agents at an Afghan base.

in 2009.

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