ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Taliban announced a successor to slain commander Baitullah Mehsud, but intelligence officials said on Sunday it was probably a smokescreen meant to hold together a movement left leaderless for almost three weeks. Taliban officials rang journalists on Saturday to say Hakimullah Mehsud, a young militant who commands fighters in the Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram tribal regions, had been chosen as the new chief by a leadership council, or Shura. Western governments with troops in Afghanistan are watching to see if any new Pakistani Taliban leader would shift focus from fighting the Pakistani government and put the movements weight behind the Afghan insurgency led by Mullah Omar. A BBC report quoted Faqir Mohammad, head of the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal region, as saying Hakimullah was selected. Tribal elders told Reuters that Hakimullah was named after Faqir was dissuaded from taking the leadership, although earlier he had said he was assuming temporary command. Theres confusion. Two days ago, Fariq claimed hes acting chief and now he says Hakim is, one senior intelligence officer said. Its a trick. Intelligence officials insisted Hakim was killed or gravely wounded in a shootout with a rival days after Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a US missile strike on Aug 5. The announcement is real, but the man isnt, the officer said. The real Hakimullah is dead. Another senior officer, who requested anonymity, speculated the Taliban leadership was trying to buy time until one of Hakimullahs brothers returned from fighting in the Afghan insurgency to take command of his men. Verifying anything in the Taliban-held tribal regions is difficult and the past few weeks have seen a spate of claims and counter-claims by the authorities and the militants. Taliban officials say intelligence agents were spreading misinformation to create divisions in the movement. The authorities say the Taliban are in disarray and their statements are meant to preserve some sense of unity until a new leader emerges. The Taliban have denied Baitullah Mehsud was killed in the missile strike on the house of his father-in-law, but say he is seriously ill. After the reports of a shootout between Hakimullah and a rival a Reuters journalist subsequently received calls from both of them denying that there had been any fight. Intelligence officials doubt whether the callers were who they said they were, even though the journalist knew both mens voices and believed they were genuine. Baitullah Mehsud had united 13 militant factions to form the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in late 2007, and authorities hope his death hastens disintegration of the loose-knit alliance. A virtual silence over the succession issue in South Waziristan, the stronghold of Mehsud and the region where the largest number of fighters are concentrated, made intelligence officials doubt if consensus on a new leader had been reached. South Waziristan lies at the southwest end of the tribal lands bordering Afghanistan, and Bajaur is at the northeast end. Tribal elders said Faqir was told to drop ideas of leading the Taliban as it would only bring more trouble to Bajaur, a region where the army declared victory in March after a six-month campaign against the militants.