Leading Pakistani Taliban Deputy Believed Killed

ISLAMABAD -- Officials say a top Pakistani Taliban commander is believed to have died in a Pakistan army airstrike.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammed's death would be the latest blow to insurgents who have threatened Pakistan and U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Two intelligence officials say he likely died along with two dozen other militants Friday in the northwest Mohmand tribal area.

They spoke on condition of anonymity since they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Mohammed ran the Pakistani Taliban's operations in the Bajur region and is thought to be close to al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik says he would be surprised if Mohammed is alive.

Independent confirmation is nearly impossible to get immediately in the remote area.

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