The Pakistani army said Sunday that it was investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January.
The army's announcement came shortly after Pakistani state television reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan's northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries.
"We have these reports coming to us," army spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press. "We are investigating whether it is true or wrong."
A tribal elder told the AP that he attended Mehsud's funeral in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai on Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the Taliban.
Pakistani intelligence officials have said that Mehsud was targeted in a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan on Jan. 14, triggering rumors that he had been injured or killed. The strike targeted a meeting of militant commanders in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan.
Mehsud issued two audio tapes after the strike denying the rumors. But Pakistani intelligence officials told the AP on Sunday that they have confirmation that the Taliban chief's legs and abdomen were wounded in the strike.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Associated Press writer Hussain Afzal contributed to this report from Parachinar.