ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Two Pakistani intelligence and one army official said Wednesday that a U.S. missile strike in northeastern Pakistan had killed a wife of top Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Mehsud's associates would not confirm the report, although they did say a woman was killed in the missile strike in South Waziristan, part of the lawless tribal region along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and where Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding.
Two intelligence and one army official, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the strike had destroyed the home of Mehsud's father-in-law, Akramud Din, and that two people had been killed, including one of Mehsud's two wives.
One of the intelligence officials said agents were trying to get details about the second person who died.
The U.S. Embassy had no comment. Washington generally does not acknowledge being responsible for such strikes.
One of Mehsud's associates, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Mehsud was not in the house at the time.
Mehsud is the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban militant group, and he has been suspected in the past of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Islamabad in December 2007.
He is also accused of organizing dozens of other homicide attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistan's air force and the military have carried out several attacks targeting Mehsud, and the army has said it is preparing for a major offensive against Mehsud and his network in the tribal region.
Wednesday morning's attack is the latest in a series of suspected U.S. missile strikes in recent weeks targeting Mehsud.
Pakistani and U.S. officials say the missiles have killed several Al Qaeda operatives in the North and South Waziristan tribal regions where Pakistan has deployed more than 100,000 troops to flush out militants and their local supporters.
Pakistan has publicly opposed such attacks, saying they were counterproductive and were angering local residents. Islamabad has asked Washington to provide it with access to the latest technology to it so that Pakistan's own military could carry out such attacks.