Two days after reports emerged that he had been killed in a shootout with a rival, Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud contacted media organisations on Monday to say that he was "alive". Hakimullah, one of several top Taliban commanders considered as contenders for leading the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan following the reported death of Baitullah Mehsud, telephoned Pakistani and foreign media organisations to deny reports of his death in fighting with rival Wali-ur-Rehman.
Talking to Geo News channel, Hakimullah said no scuffle had occurred between him and Rehman. He said he was "safe, hale and hearty". He also claimed that Baitullah was alive despite the contention of the Pakistan and US governments that they are now certain the Taliban chief was killed in a Predator drone attack in South Waziristan on August 5.
Hakimullah said if Interior Minister Rehman Malik could not present any evidence regarding the killing of Baitullah, he would "table proofs to deny the reports regarding his death". He said the Pakistani Taliban remained united despite the government's claims that there was infighting among militant factions.