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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Taleban commander was 'shot dead'
By Abdul Hai Kakar
BBC Urdu service, Peshawar

 Abdullah Mehsud
Abdullah Mehsud was detained, then freed, by US forces
Taleban commander Abdullah Mehsud was killed by Pakistani soldiers and did not commit suicide, one of the owners of the house in which he died says.

The man, Shaikh Alam Mandokhel, said that Mehsud was shot in the stomach.

Pakistani police had said Mehsud blew himself up to evade arrest after being surrounded in Balochistan province.

Mehsud, a Taleban veteran who the US freed from custody at Guantanamo Bay, became one of Pakistan's most wanted Islamic militant leaders.

He was buried in his home village in the South Waziristan tribal area on Wednesday.

Knock on the door

Shaikh Alam told the BBC Urdu service the militant arrived at his house in the town of Zhob on Monday night.

If he had blown himself up, his body would have been in pieces
House owner Shaikh Alam Mandokhel

He said that neither he nor his cousin, Shaikh Ayub Mandokhel, had been at home at the time.

The militant and his companion told the boy who opened the door they had been sent to spend the night by an Islamic priest, Shaikh Alam said.

He said the boy opened the guest quarters for them, served them dinner and went back to his computer in another room.

"We keep receiving guests from the city or the villages. We have been hosts to government and intelligence officials too on several occasions. This is part of the Pashtun tradition," Shaikh Alam said.

At 5:30 on Tuesday morning, there was another knock on the door.

Shaikh Alam says this time another boy answered the door and was arrested by security forces who had surrounded the house.

Map

The boy's father, who followed his son to the door, was also arrested.

Shaikh Alam says Abdullah Mehsud was killed in the intense firing by the security forces which then followed.

"If he had blown himself up, his body would have been in pieces. But he only had bullet wounds to his stomach," he says.

Shaikh Alam said it was Mehsud's first stay at their house, and that he had never spent a night there before.

Important figure

His account differs from the official version.

An interior ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that Mehsud's movements had been monitored for three days, and he blew himself up with a grenade to avoid arrest when the house was raided.

Correspondents say Mehsud was an important figure who had a fearsome reputation among pro-Taleban militants.

Mehsud, whose real name was Noor Alam, was a Pashtun, the same ethnic group as the Taleban of Afghanistan.

He lost a leg in a landmine explosion as the Taleban fought to take over the Afghan capital Kabul in 1996, and was eventually captured and handed over to the Americans in 2001.

Released from Guantanamo in 2004, he quickly resumed his militant role and was involved in the kidnap of two Chinese workers, one of whom died during a rescue bid by Pakistani forces in South Waziristan later that year.


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