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Pakistani Taliban Chief Believed to be Alive, Contrary to Reports

Pakistani intelligence officials say Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is believed to be alive, despite claims that he was killed by a U.S. missile strike earlier this year.

Senior officials, who did not want to be identified, said Thursday the latest information shows Mehsud was wounded in the January drone attack in Pakistan's tribal region, but that he survived.

U.S. officials had said they were more than 90 percent certain the militant leader had been killed. And in February, Pakistan's interior minister said there was "credible information" Mehsud was dead.

Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday that although Mehsud is alive, he is no longer a major force in the Pakistani Taliban movement.

in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell also said he has seen "no evidence" that Mehsud is exerting authority over the Pakistan Taliban as he once did. He added that Mehsud is clearly not running the militant group.

Morrell told reporters on Thursday that he could not definitively say whether Mehsud is dead or alive, and that the United States has never officially commented on Mehsud's status.

Pakistani intelligence officials say other Taliban commanders, such as Waliur Rehman, are now overshadowing Mehsud.

The Taliban has always denied that Mehsud was killed in the air strike. Several days after the attack, the group released an audio recording of the militant leader that it said proved he was still alive.

Hakimullah Mehsud's predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack in August 2009.

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