Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 5 News List

US killed top militants, Pakistan says

AP , ISLAMABAD

An al-Qaeda explosives and chemical weapons expert and a relative of the terror network's No. 2 leader were among three top operatives believed killed in a US missile strike in Pakistan last week, Pakistani security officials said yesterday.

Pakistani authorities have said at least four foreign militants were killed in last Friday's attack in Damadola village near the Afghan border that officials say targeted -- but missed -- al-Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to speak to media, said three notable al-Qaeda figures were in the village at the time of the attack and that their bodies were believed to have been taken away by sympathizers.

He said one of them was Midhat Mursi, an Egyptian.

The US Justice Department cites Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, as an explosives expert and poisons trainer who trained hundreds of mujahidin at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan near the city of Jalalabad.

The US agency has said that his exact whereabouts were unknown but that he may be residing in Pakistan, and offered US$5 million for information leading to his arrest.

The Pakistani official named two other foreigners as suspected killed in the missile strike: Abu Ubaida, an al-Qaeda chief in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar Province, across the border from the strike site; and Abdul Rehman al-Misri, a relative of al-Zawahri, possibly his son-in-law.

He stressed that their bodies have not been found.

"We do not have any evidence to prove that they have been killed, but we have indications that they were there and were among those bodies that were taken away," said the official. He refused to give further details.

A second Pakistani security official confirmed that agencies were investigating the three names as possible victims of the air strike, which officials say also killed 18 local people.

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