Baitullah Mehsud escorted by his guard as he arrives for a meeting in South Waziristan.—AFP

DERA ISMAIL KHAN Baitullah Mehsud has been killed in a US missile strike, according to an aide to the chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

'I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,' Taliban commander Kafayat Ullah said by telephone on Friday. He would not give any details.

One Pakistani official said he had seen a classified intelligence report stating Mehsud was dead and buried, but that agents had not seen the body since the area was under Taliban control.

Another senior Pakistani intelligence official said phone and other communications intercepts (he would not be more specific) had led authorities to suspect Mehsud was dead.

An American counterterrorism official indicated the United States did not yet have physical evidence —remains —that would prove who died. But he said there were other ways of determining who was killed in the strike. He declined to describe them.

A local tribesman, who also spoke on condition his name not be used, said Mehsud had been at his father-in-law's house being treated for kidney pain, and had been put on a drip by a doctor, when the missile struck. The tribesman claimed he attended the Taliban chief's funeral.—AP

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