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Pakistani Taliban leader is dead, Taliban aide says

  • Story Highlights
  • Taliban previously denied reports that a U.S. missile strike killed Baitullah Mehsud
  • Taliban aide says Mehsud is dead, declines to comment on how he died
  • Pakistan, U.S. authorities believe a missile killed him August 5
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A top Taliban aide has acknowledged that the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, is dead.

Baitullah Mehsud, right, and a bodyguard in Pakistan in 2004.

Baitullah Mehsud, right, and a bodyguard in Pakistan in 2004.

The Taliban had previously denied reports that a U.S. missile strike killed Mehsud.

A close aide to two senior Taliban leaders, however, said Mehsud is dead but declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his death. He spoke on the condition that his name not be used.

Pakistani and U.S. authorities have said they believe a missile fired from a pilotless U.S. drone killed Mehsud on August 5 in a region of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

They have said they were awaiting DNA tests for confirmation.

Over the weekend, a Taliban official said Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud was selected the new head of the Pakistani Taliban.

Hakeemullah Mehsud was selected Friday by a 42-member Taliban council, or shura, according to Taliban commander Qari Haris.

CNN's Samson Desta contributed to this report

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