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Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 11:24 UK

Taliban leader's brother 'killed'

Pakistani Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban remain strong in North and South Waziristan

The brother of Pakistan's new Taliban leader has been killed in a clash with security forces in the north-west of the country, local officials say.

Kalimullah Mehsud was killed in battle on Monday after troops responded to a Taliban rocket attack on a military base in North Waziristan.

Tribal sources confirmed his death. He has since been buried in his village.

His brother, Hakimullah Mehsud, took over the Pakistani Taliban after its previous chief was killed last month.

Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a suspected US drone missile in South Waziristan on 6 August.

After some weeks the Taliban acknowledged his death and put the young and feared commander from South Waziristan at its helm.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that it is the first time that a close relative of Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed since he took charge.

A number of senior militant commanders have been killed in recent missile strikes in the troubled region.

But a recent spate of suicide bombings across the north-west has raised fears that the Taliban are reasserting themselves following the Muslim festival of Eid.

'Buried'

Hakimullah Mehsud
Hakimullah Mehsud has not spoken to the media since becoming leader

Fighting broke out in North Waziristan on Monday when the Taliban fired a missile into a base for the paramilitary Frontier Corps at Razmak, killing a soldier and wounding five others, security officials say.

They say that security forces responded by pounding militant hideouts around Razmak and in neighbouring South Waziristan's Makeen and Ladha areas.

"Kalimullah was buried on Wednesday. He was killed on Monday in crossfire with security forces," a security official in North Waziristan told the AFP news agency.

Seven Taliban members, including Kalimullah Mehsud, were reported to have been killed.

Tougher proposition

Correspondents say that Hakimullah Mehsud, believed to be about 30, has yet to speak to the media or appear in public since becoming leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

He has two surviving brothers.

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

The Pakistani government blames the TTP - formed by Baitullah Mehsud in late 2007 - for many attacks and suicide bombings that have killed thousands of people across Pakistan in the past two years.

The army launched an offensive against the Taliban in the north-west earlier this year and have re-taken control of the Swat valley.

It is also reportedly poised to launch an operation in Waziristan.

Reports say that a number of people have left parts of South Waziristan in recent days.

Correspondents say this may also be linked to seasonal migration in the area but there is also an indication that some people may be on the move following reports of an impending offensive.

But people have been moving from the area since the summer in anticipation of fighting.

Analysts say that military action in North and South Waziristan will be an extremely hard proposition, because these areas are believed to be awash with both Pakistani Taliban and other Islamist militants who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion.

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