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Pakistan Tribal Sources Say Foreign Al-Qaida Operatives Killed in Missile Strike

  • Barry Newhouse

Pakistani tribal sources say Monday's suspected U.S. missile strike in the North Waziristan tribal region killed four foreign al-Qaida operatives. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that independent sources have not confirmed the alleged deaths, but tribal leaders say one of those killed was a high-level operative of the terrorist network.

Tribal leaders with links to militant groups say the four Arab men known as Abu Qasim, Abu Musa, Abu Hamza and Abu Haris were killed near a home and seminary of a Taliban militant leader with ties to al-Qaida.

Pakistani intelligence officials say the man known as Abu Haris was an Egyptian in his 50s who has been living in Pakistan for at least two decades. They said after last year's deadly government raid on Islamabad's Red Mosque, he became the top al-Qaida logistics coordinator in the North West Frontier Province. Intelligence officials say the man known as Abu Hamza was a supplier of improvised explosive devices.

U.S. officials have not confirmed carrying out the alleged missile strike and the Pakistani military continues to refer to the incident as "explosions" from unknown causes.

Since late August there have been at least five reported missile strikes against militant targets in North and South Waziristan. Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials say the regions act as Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries and have urged Pakistan to eliminate them.

During his visit to Islamabad Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said striking against the sanctuaries is a top priority for defeating his country's Taliban insurgency.

"We should concentrate on the sanctuaries - whether those sanctuaries are in Afghanistan or in Pakistan where terrorists find a place to train themselves to hurt the people of Pakistan, of Afghanistan or to hurt the people of the world," he said.

Monday's apparent strike targeted a stronghold of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a longtime Afghan militant leader who U.S. officials say oversees one of the deadliest Taliban factions in Afghanistan.

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