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Al-Qaida Commander Killed in Pakistan

  • Ayaz Gul

A leading al-Qaida operative apparently was among those killed in Pakistan recently by a missile reportedly launched from a U.S. military drone. However, the Pakistani government says it does not know the source of the explosion or who was killed. The tribal region where Abu Laith al-Libi was reportedly killed, has seen frequent militant attacks on security forces. As Ayaz Gul reports, another one took place on Friday killing at least four soldiers.

An Islamic extremist Web site reported the death of the top al-Qaida commander inside Pakistani territory and identified the man as Abu Laith al-Libi. The site did not give the cause of his death.

News reports have quoted unnamed American officials as confirming Libi was killed in a CIA air strike this week that targeted an al-Qaida hideout in the North Waziristan tribal region. The area is a known safe haven for terrorists and it borders Afghanistan.

The U.S. Department of Defense has not commented on the incident so far.

Pakistani tribesmen say the suspected U.S missile strike killed at least 12 militants, including several Arabs and Central Asians.

However, government officials have been tight lipped about the incident.

But speaking to reporters in Islamabad on Friday, Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan confirmed there was an explosion at a militant hideout near the town of Mir Ali on Monday night. He did not say what caused the blast.

The Pakistani minister says the house where the explosion occurred belonged to a Taliban militant and several people were killed in the incident.

But he says it is not possible to discuss the identity of those killed because other militants took their bodies to an unknown location before authorities arrived.

U.S officials have described Libi, a Libyan national, as one of the top al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan, where thousands of American troops are trying to eliminate those terrorist forces.

Libi's name was included in a U.S list of 12 "most wanted" terrorists.

He was believed to have plotted a number of attacks against U.S and coalition forces, including last year's bombing at a U.S air base in Afghanistan that killed 23 people.

The attack occurred while U.S Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting the Bagram base.