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Pakistan tries to confirm death of Taliban leader

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistani government was investigating reports Sunday that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries in a U.S. drone missile strike launched in mid-January after he helped orchestrate a deadly late December bombing against the CIA in Afghanistan.

Mehsud's predecessor was killed in a missile strike less than six months ago, and inflicting another blow to the militant group's leadership would be an important success for both Pakistan and the United States.

Mehud's death would be further proof of the ability of the unmanned aircraft to target Taliban and al-Qaida leaders holed up in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Pakistani government officials said they were investigating whether Mehsud was mortally wounded in one of those strikes after state television reported that he died in Orakzai, in Pakistan's tribal region.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the state TV report relied on "local sources" in Orakzai that the government could not confirm. "But the local tribal elders there and the local population say that he has been buried," Malik said. - AP

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