Pakistan probed reports yesterday that a senior al-Qaeda figure was among six people killed in a suspected US missile strike, while in Washington Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed anger that his country’s sovereignty had been violated.
Pakistan’s army said it had not confirmed that Monday’s strike killed al-Qaeda operative Abu Khabab al-Masri, described by Washington as an expert who trained terrorists in the use of poisons and explosives.
But two Pakistani intelligence officials said they believed al-Masri had died, and a US official in Washington expressed cautious optimism. The US is offering a US$5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
“There is a real sense that this guy is gone,” the US official said.
But he cautioned that there was no material evidence yet to confirm al-Masri’s death, such as a photograph of the dead man at the bomb site.
The pre-dawn strike on a border village in the South Waziristan tribal region came hours before Gilani met US President George W. Bush at the White House.
There is rising Western pressure on the four-month-old Pakistan government to act against Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds in its frontier region with Afghanistan amid concern that peace deals have given militants more freedom to operate.
The two leaders made no mention of the missile attack when they addressed reporters on the White House lawn. They expressed common resolve to fight terrorism.
But later in an interview with CNN, Gilani said the strike was “certainly” a violation of sovereignty if the US had acted unilaterally. He said he told Bush that both countries should do a better job of sharing intelligence so that Pakistan could fight extremists itself.
Gilani said an inquiry about the strike was under way.
Asked why US officials were reluctant to share more intelligence, Gilani said, “basically, Americans are a little impatient.”
The US military in Afghanistan denied it launched the missile strike.
“It was not us,” said 1st Lieutenant Nathan Perry, a spokesman for the US-led coalition.
That denial would not preclude US involvement. Previous such strikes inside Pakistan are believed to have been conducted by the CIA using Predator drones.
Al-Masri was previously reported killed in a January 2006 missile strike by a CIA Predator drone in the Pakistani tribal region of Bajaur that targeted and missed al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed