Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud has died, the country's top civilian security official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
It was the government's first categorical confirmation of the death of the feared terrorist, whose passing is likely to weaken, but not vanquish, the al-Qaida-linked insurgent network he led.
Reports of Mehsud's death emerged after a spate of US missiles hit his stronghold in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt in mid-January.
Mehsud was said to have died of wounds suffered in one of the strikes in the Waziristan region — another big victory for the CIA-led missile campaign that killed Mehsud's predecessor just six months ago.
In a response to an AP query, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, wrote, "Yes, he is dead," while a senior intelligence official concurred.