Baitullah Meshud, a Pakistani Taliban leader was likely killed in a U.S. drone attack a top Pakistani official said Friday.
“The information I have is that Mehsud has been killed, but we are doing ground verification for 100 percent confirmation,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister.
According to CNN, information from the region that was attacked somewhat confirms Meshud’s death, however, DNA tests will officially verify his death.
A Pakistani official who handles intelligence said that the strike in Pakistan’s South Waziristan, a tribal area, was executed solely based upon “solid intel.” After the attack,”the Mehsud network has gone quiet as if in shock,” the official said.
Although Meshud is believed to have died, the official cautioned that “there is a high degree of confidence but certainty only comes after physical evidence and
DNA is processed.” Given the fact Mehsud “has shown up alive after previous near misses,” he added.
The U.S. maintains its silence in matters of drone attacks, which are missiles that are launched by remote. The U.S. military is the only country that operates missiles from drones.
The Pakistani Taliban and other high ranking members including Meshud have been the subject of investigation within Pakistani military operation. Hideouts linked to Mehsud are often air-raided by the Pakistani military.
Mehsud’s close aide recently reveled that the Pakistani Taliban chief was the mastermind behind the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was shot to death at a political rally in December 2007. Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is the current president of Pakistan.
CIA officials and Pakistani officials have long suspected that Mehsud was responsible for Bhutto’s death.
The Obama administration authorized 28 strikes in 2009, as the drone initiative has rapidly increased.
A Taliban member, Muhammad Jamal, said that woman and children were injured in the recent drone attack.