The head of the Pakistani Taliban is now believed to have survived a U.S. missile strike earlier this year, intelligence officials said Thursday, reversing earlier claims he had died and handing the militants something of a propaganda victory.

U.S. security officials had also said they believed Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in the January attack in an area between the North and South Waziristan tribal regions close to the Afghanistan border. They were not immediately available for comment.

The Taliban themselves had always claimed Mehsud was alive, but have said they were not going to offer any evidence such as a video recording because doing so could help security forces hunt him down. Until or unless they do, questions are likely to remain over his fate, given the patchy nature of intelligence from the tribal regions.

Four intelligence officials said Pakistan’s main spy agency now believed Mehsud was alive and well. They cited electronic surveillance and reports from sources in the field, including from inside the Taliban. One official said Mehsud was believed to have been wounded in the attack and had been seen alive after the attack.

All spoke on condition of anonymity because they work for the spy agencies, which do not allow operatives to be named in the media.

Source: Yahoo! News AP

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