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By Zahir Shah
PESHAWAR – One day after unconfirmed reports that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed January 12 by an aerial strike, a leading security analyst said that if Hakimullah is dead, it means the end of the militant group.
Reuters and the Associated Press both reported Hakimullah's death January 15, citing unnamed intelligence sources. The TTP has denied the reports.
Pakistani security and political officials contacted by Central Asia Online said they were investigating the reports.
“We cannot confirm or deny the reports yet,” said one official who requested anonymity, noting that earlier claims of Hakimullah's death have twice proved untrue.
“I believe the TTP, already broken into fragments, is gone if the man has really died,” security analyst and former Federally Administered Tribal Areas security secretary Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, commenting on the reports, said.
A spokesperson for the TTP, Asimullah Asim Mehsud, however, denied the death of his commander.
“Hakimullah was even not present on the scene where the drone hit two vehicles, killing eight Central Asian militants,” he said.
Sailab Mehsud, a tribal journalist from South Waziristan Agency, told Central Asia Online that he had spoken to residents of the Dattakhel area where the aerial attack occurred, who said Hakimullah was present when the missile strike took place. However, they had no knowledge of his death, he said.