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Possible Al Qaeda replacement for bin Laden killed in Pakistan by US drone strike

The reported death of Ilyas Kashmiri could help repair ties between Pakistan and the US if it was Pakistani intelligence that led to the strike in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

A US drone was used to carry out the airstrike.
A US drone was used to carry out the airstrike.
Image: Lt. Col.. Leslie Pratt/AP/Press Association Images

A KEY AL-QAEDA militant has been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan according to local officials and intelligence sources.

Multiple sources are now reporting that a top Al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed in an American drone strike that killed nine militants in total.

He is one of five most-wanted militant leaders in Pakistan and his death would be another blow to Al Qaeda just over a month after Osama bin Laden was killed.

The US drone-fired missiles struck a house in the village of Gowakha, on the outskirts of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, late on Friday according to officials.

On Saturday, one official named five of the victims — Usman, Farooq, Ameer Hamza and Ibrahim — and said they were members of the Punjabi Taliban.

Described by US officials as Al Qaeda’s military operations chief in Pakistan, Kashmiri has been mentioned as a possible replacement for bin Laden, who was killed 2 May in an American commando raid.

The 47-year-old Pakistani, said to be blind in one eye and missing a finger, is accused in a string of high profile attacks on Western and Pakistani security force targets inside Pakistan, as well as in India.

Indian officials have alleged he was involved in the 2008 Mumbai siege that killed more than 160 people. He has also been named a defendant in an American court over a planned attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

His name was on a list of militants that the United States and Pakistan recently agreed to jointly target, officials have said, and the successful strike could help repair damaged ties between the two countries, especially if Islamabad helped provide intelligence leading up to the attack.

- AP

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