PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the militant movement that poses the gravest security threat to the country, is believed to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, four Pakistan intelligence officials told Reuters on Sunday.
The officials said they intercepted wireless radio chatter between Taliban fighters detailing how Hakimullah Mehsud was killed while travelling in a convoy to a meeting in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.
A senior military official told Reuters there was no official confirmation that the Pakistani state’s deadliest enemy had been killed. The Pakistani Taliban issued a denial. U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, could not confirm his death.
If Hakimullah did die, it could ease pressure on security forces, who have struggled to weaken the group, which is close to al Qaeda and has been blamed for many of the suicide bombings across one of the world’s most unstable countries.
But it may not ease violence in the long term in Pakistan, which is seen as critical for U.S. efforts to fight global militancy, most crucially in neighboring Afghanistan.