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Pakistan: One of al-Qaida's Leaders Killed in Anti-Terror Operation - 2003-10-16

Pakistan says it killed one of al-Qaida's top leaders in its operation against the terror network earlier this month.

Pakistani officials have not disclosed the identity or the nationality of the alleged al-Qaida terrorist. A senior government minister told VOA the United States had offered a $5 million reward for the militant.

Earlier, Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid revealed to reporters in the capital that the al-Qaida suspect was killed during Pakistan's recent operation in South Waziristan agency, a tribal area near the border with Afghanistan.

The minister said the dead man was among al-Qaida's top 15 leaders, but he refused to provide further details.

The October 2 operation in Angor Adda left eight alleged al-Qaida militants and two Pakistani soldiers dead. Another 18 were detained and are now being questioned.

Officials involved in the operation said all the suspects killed were foreign nationals, but did not specify from which countries they came.

While the identity of the al-Qaida leader killed in the operation remains a mystery, several key members of the organization carry $5 million bounties from the U.S. government. They include Jaber al-Baneh, of Yemen, accused of organizing an al-Qaida sleeper cell in the United States.

Another $5 million reward has been posted for Habis Abdullah al-Saoub, who fought against the Soviet occupation forces in neighboring Afghanistan in the 1980s.

As part of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition, Pakistan has captured more than 500 al-Qaida suspects, including several key leaders. Most of those captured are in U.S. custody.