[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/09/us.pakistan.taliban/art.pakistan.rubble.gi.jpg" caption="Villagers gather at the rubble of houses belonging to supporters of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.."]
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
After several days of uncertainty, the Obama administration now believes that a CIA missile strike did kill Pakistan's Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, according to a senior U.S. official.
"He's dead," the senior U.S. official said flatly, adding that intelligence officials have told President Obama they are convinced Mehsud perished in last Wednesday night's attack.
The death comes after a dramatic escalation of the number of unmanned drones the CIA is using for missile strikes in the rugged South Waziristan tribal region where Mehsud was killed. The CIA recently requested an increase in drones from five to nine that were tracking Mehsud and it was approved by the White House shortly before his death, according to the senior U.S. official.
The senior U.S. official said the government is convinced they got Mehsud based on various indicators on the scene of last week's strike. It was an extremely warm night and a short, stocky man meeting Mehsud's physical description sought refuge from the heat on the roof of the home of Mehsud's father-in-law, according to the official.
Then the man in question began having his legs massaged on the roof of the home, which was an indicator to intelligence officials that it was Mehsud because his legs ached from diabetes and he frequently sought relief. At that point, according to the senior U.S. official, the CIA moved forward on the strike acting on a pre-approved order from the President to strike when U.S. intelligence officials believed they had Mehsud in their sights.
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