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Pakistan’s ailing Taliban chief in second marriage


Islamabad : The Pakistani Taliban leader has married for a second time a young girl from his tribe, around two weeks after several news channels claimed he had died following a prolonged ailment, media reports said Wednesday.

According to The News daily, Baitullah Mehsud, the head of a united front of smaller Taliban groups called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistan Taliban Movement, openly celebrated his wedding in Dwa Toi village in his stronghold of South Waziristan, a tribal district along the Afghan border.

Rice and lamb meat was served to the guests of the ethnic Pashtun guerrilla commander, who has been accused of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and is the most wanted man in Pakistan. He denies the allegations.

Mehsud, in his mid 30s, suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Earlier this month CNN and Pakistani Geo news channel reported his death.

“The doctor never left Baitullah alone (during the wedding),” one guest told the newspaper, adding that he apparently had a device in his hand in case he needed drugs to be administered to him in emergency,

The bride, whose age is not mentioned in the report, is from Mehsud’s Shabikhel tribe and is the daughter of a tribal elder named Ikramuddin.

He went for the second marriage because he had only four daughters but no son from his first wife, a close aide to the Taliban commander told the newspaper.

Mehsud, who leads 20,000 to 30,000 fighters in tribal areas, is believed to have close links with the Al Qaeda terrorist network and facilitates Taliban launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf accused him of ordering dozens of suicide attacks across the country since 2007.

He was recently named by Time magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world and Newsweek titled him as “more dangerous than Osama bin Laden.