PESHAWAR: Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan have released an audio tape of Hakeemullah Mehsud as reports emerged that the TTP chief had been injured in a fresh drone attack, DawnNews reported.
The audio recording was allegedly made Friday and sent to media outlets by unnamed Taliban militants in which the group's leader says he is alive.
The message comes after missiles from unmanned US aircraft pounded the northwest tribal belt on Thursday killing at least 15 militants, with some security officials saying Mehsud was among the dead.
In the recording, Mehsud accused the government of using the media as a propaganda tool against the Taliban.
“Sometimes they (the government) launch a propaganda about my martyrdom through the media and sometimes they say that the operation has been completed in South Waziristan. This can never happen,” Mehsud said.
He was referring to military operations against Taliban strongholds launched last year in the lawless tribal district of South Waziristan.
"I am telling the nation that drone strikes are against Pakistan's sovereignty and the rulers will be responsible for any drastic step taken by the Taliban in retaliation," said Mehsud.
Reporters familiar with Mehsud said the voice appeared to be his, but there was no mention of dates or the specific strike alleged to have killed him.
Mehsud assumed leadership of the group blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in attacks in Pakistan after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone strike in August last year.
Rumours also surfaced in October last year that Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed, prompting the militant chief to put out a number of statements denying his demise.
There was no way to independently confirm whether the message released Friday was recorded before or after Thursday's strike.(courtesy-DAWN)