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Jordanian Bodyguard for Al-Qaida Reported Killed in Pakistan Drone Strike

Brother of Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan says militant was a bodyguard for top al-Qaida field commander

The brother of a Jordanian militant who was a top bodyguard for al-Qaida says he was killed last week in an apparent U.S. drone (pilotless aircraft) strike in Pakistan.

News reports quote a man, Omar Mahdi Zeidan, identified as the brother of Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan as saying he was a bodyguard for a top al-Qaida field commander, Mustapha Abulyazid. The man said he does not know the identity of the person who notified him by phone of his brother's death.

Analysts who monitor extremist Web sites say militants recently announced the "martyrdom" of Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan, also known as Mansur al-Shami, in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal region. Pakistani officials reported earlier that 13 militants -- including four foreigners -- were killed in two drone strikes last week.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan says Washington's relationship with Islamabad is in a better place than it was a year ago, although he added no relationship is "without difficulties."

Richard Holbrooke said there has been a massive increase in foreign assistance to Pakistan and the U.S. remains committed to a partnership with the country based on "mutual trust and respect."

Holbrooke commented Wednesday at a joint news conference in Islamabad with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Earlier, Holbrooke announced the U.S. would contribute $16.5 million to Pakistan for improvements at the Tarbela Dam hydroelectric plant.

In a U.S. embassy statement, Holbrooke says an "efficient system of power generation and distribution" is critical to helping economic development in Pakistan, where power-blackouts have crippled commerce.

During Wednesday's news conference Qureshi pledged support to neighboring Afghanistan, where government forces and a NATO-led alliance are battling militants.

Pakistan has launched its own offensive against militants in the tribal region of South Waziristan. In a Wednesday statement, Pakistani military forces say three suspected militants have been killed in the past 24 hours.

Elsewhere, police say at least one child was killed and five others wounded in an explosion Wednesday in the city of Tank. Geo News says preliminary reports indicate the blast occurred as a group of children came in contact with a suicide vest left at a playground.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.