9 Aug 2009

Fighting reported between Taliban rivals

6:56 am on 9 August 2009

The Pakistan government has received reports that shooting broke out between two rivals for the leadership of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that one of them may have been killed.

There are unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah Mehsud was killed at a shura (council meeting) to decide who would succeed Baitullah Mehsud who was apparently killed by a missile on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday the government was "pretty certain" that Mehsud perished. His second wife, a brother and seven bodyguards were also killed.

An intelligence officer in South Waziristan said he had reports that Hakimullah Mehsud died in the shooting at the meeting, which was held at about 4.30pm (1030 GMT).

State-run Pakistan Television said there were reports that both leaders might have been killed in a shoot-out.

Waziristan is a northwest tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Baitullah Mehsud had a $US5 million bounty on his head.