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Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 13:38 UK

Taliban film shows leader is dead

Still from the video showing the body of Baitullah Mehsud
The video shows Baitullah Mehsud lying amid virtual silence

The Taliban in Pakistan have released a video confirming that their former leader Baitullah Mehsud is dead.

A video received by the BBC shows the body of the former head of Pakistan's largest Taliban group lying in a room. It is not clear where it was taken.

Mr Mehsud was killed on 6 August in the tribal region of South Waziristan in a missile attack by a suspected US drone.

The video came as officials said at least six people had been killed in a fresh drone attack in North Waziristan.

The strike near the town of Mir Ali was the third such attack in the past 24 hours against militant targets near the Afghan border, intelligence officials said.

Two missile attacks on Tuesday, one in South Waziristan and one in North Waziristan, left at least 12 suspected militants dead.

Covered

US and Pakistani officials were quick to claim Mr Mehsud's death, but it took nearly three weeks for the Taliban to admit he had been hurt in the attack and had later died.

US drone
Hundreds have been killed in drone attacks in the past year

It is not clear why they have decided to release the video of their former leader now. They announced his death and named a successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, in late August.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says the video shows Baitullah Mehsud lying on a flat surface in a room, amid virtual silence.

His entire body is covered in a white funeral shroud, so it is difficult to tell how his body was injured in the attack.

There are no marks on his face, except for a few scratches near his nose.

A man is shown in the video crouching near the body clearly stricken with grief.

The video, which lasts nearly two minutes, has little audio. Two sentences are spoken.

A voice, apparently that of the video maker, says: "If there was a leader, there would have been some preparations."

Later, the same voice says: "May Allah destroy these cruel people who do not use rifles and Allah knows what else, to kill us."

Pakistan's government publicly condemns drone attacks, arguing that they fuel anti-American feeling, but many observers say Islamabad secretly endorses the tactic.

Hundreds of militants and civilians have been killed in dozens of such attacks in the past year.

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