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Deadly power struggle follows Mehsud's death, say govt sources

Video by Luke BROWN , Matthieu MABIN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-08-11

The alleged death of Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud (pictured) has left the group in disarray, with reports emerging of a gun battle at a meeting to select a new leader. However, confirmation is still being sought that Mehsud is in fact dead.

Pakistan’s Taliban appears to be in a state of disarray following the apparent killing of their commander Baitullah Mehsud. The Pakistani Taliban, considered a key Al-Qaeda facilitator by Washington, was allegedly killed in a US drone attack, according to Pakistani intelligence reports on Friday. However, Islamabad is still seeking confirmation.

 

Although the Taliban commander’s death has yet to be confirmed, it seems a deadly power-struggle has already begun. There were unconfirmed reports over the weekend of a fatal gun battle at a meeting of top Taliban commanders convened to discuss the choice of a successor to Mehsud.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said these reports from the lawless region of South Waziristan were being investigated.

 

The commanders were reportedly Hakimullah Mehsud, a deputy to Baitullah Mehsud and the warlord's main spokesman, and Wali-ur Rehman, a senior commander in Mehsud's umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) movement.

 

Despite the apparent internal turmoil among the Taliban, security analyst Hasan Askari warned that the threat was not over and said Pakistani authorities would have to re-establish control in the tribal areas.

 

"The current situation practically shows that the government does not really have access to the area, which makes it difficult to verify the information that is coming through diverse sources," Askari said.

 

FRANCE 24’s correspondent visited the Red Mosque, which is a bastion of extremists amid the current turmoil. For the worshippers at the Red Mosque, Mehsud’s death does not mean the end of the road for the Taliban in the region.

 

“Killing Meshud doesn't mean an end to this war because this war is an ideological battle. Killing an ideology isn't easy.” Iftikar Khan told FRANCE 24.

 

However, for now, Mehsud’s death could prove advantageous to the Pakistani government.

Date created : 2009-08-10

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