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Pakistan Probes Reports of Fighting Between Taliban Rivals


Pakistan says it is investigating unconfirmed reports of a deadly shooting between two rival Taliban commanders seeking to replace the group's leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was allegedly killed in a U.S. missile strike.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday the reports suggest a fight broke out during a meeting (shura) between Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud, and that one of them is dead.

But another Taliban commander, Noor Sayed, denied there had been any such confrontation.

The succession meeting was reportedly held in the semi-autonomous tribal region of South Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, where Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says Baitullah Mehsud was killed Wednesday.

Qureshi said authorities plan to travel to Mehsud's stronghold to try to obtain 100 percent confirmation of his death.

Mehsud commanded Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a network of at least 13 groups. He claimed responsibility for a spate of suicide bombings across Pakistan.

He was also accused of being behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, a charge he denied.

News organizations reported unnamed Taliban sources as saying Mehsud was killed and quickly buried in the remote, Taliban-held area of Nargusai. But a senior Taliban commander denied that Mehsud had been killed in the missile strike.

The United States put a $5 million bounty on Mehsud, who it says had close ties to al-Qaida operatives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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