Pakistani Taliban leader dead
The leader of Pakistan's Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, is dead from kidney failure, sources told CNN.
The Pakistan government blamed Mehsud for the December 27, 2007, assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
An unnamed Islamabad-based source with connections within the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan said Mehsud died about 1 a.m. Wednesday. Military officials in the field confirmed to CNN that Mehsud had died.
Earlier reports said the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan was ill and was expected to die within a day. Mehsud is said to have succumbed to kidney failure and was believed to be about 34 years old.
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Mehsud's death leaves a power vacuum within the Mehsud tribe and the Pakistani Taliban, analysts say. Since there was no second in command of the Mehsud tribe, tribal splits are expected.
Mehsud's death also is expected to spark a power struggle and the appointment of a new Taliban leader in Pakistan, but whoever replaces Mehsud is not expected to have as much influence and control in the region.