WASHINGTON (AFP) Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was likely killed in US missile strikes but there was still no definitive evidence that he was dead, a US defence official told AFP on Thursday. Theres a good likelihood that hes dead, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. But final confirmation would have to wait until a body pops up, or photographic evidence ... or reliable witnesses verify reports. A US counter-terrorism official said rumours were taking root because Hakimullah Mehsud had been out of view. As more and more time passes without this major terrorist - one of the worst people in the world - making any kind of appearance, the rumours of his demise become more deeply seated, said the official, who asked not to be named. Thats apparently prompted some to speculate hes gone. I certainly hope theyre right, he said. Pakistani officials said they were seeking confirmation of differing reports about his possible demise - published by The New York Times and briefly on Pakistans state television Sunday. He was reportedly taken more than 100km to Orakzai, elsewhere in Pakistans tribal belt for medical help but a Pakistani intelligence official told AFP that the doctor in question denied treating him. It could be (Hakimullah) Mehsuds own bluffing game. The report may have been circulated to divert US attention because he was being repeatedly chased and targeted by the US spy planes, he said. A Pakistani military official said that there were other unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah was wounded when a Pakistani helicopter shelled suspected Taliban hideouts in the Mamoonzai area of Orakzai last week.