Washington, Feb 1: Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Laith Al-Libi has reportedly been killed in Pakistan, a Western official and an unnamed military official were quoted as saying by a television channel late on Thursday night.
Pakistani intelligence officials and local residents said the missile hit a compound in a village about 2.5 miles outside Mir Ali in North Waziristan late on Monday or early on Tuesday, destroying the establishment. The bodies of those killed were badly mangled by the force of the explosion and it was difficult to identify those killed, an unidentified official said, adding that an estimated 12 people were killed, including Arabs, Turkmen from central Asia and local Taliban members.
According to the Daily Times, the 41-year-old Libyan was active in operational planning and training, and not far below the importance of the top two Al Qaeda leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
Libi was placed on the US military's most wanted list in 2006, behind Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
A website used by militant groups carried a statement in the name of Al-Fajr, Al Qaeda's media wing, saying "he was martyred with a group of his brothers in the land of Muslim Pakistan". The statement was referring to a missile strike in North Waziristan on Monday.
"We congratulate the Islamic nation for the martyrdom of the sheik, the lion, Abu Laith Al-Libi," said a banner that appeared in a section of the website reserved for affiliated militant groups and is not open to public posting.
"As the banner was posted on Ekhlaas (the website's name) by a webmaster of the forum, it seems as if the announcement of his death has been confirmed," said a foreign news agency.
However, a US military official with the Combined Joint Task Force-82, the anti-terror unit responsible for searching for Libi in Afghanistan, said he had no information on Al-Libi's death, but added that CJTF-82 did not collect information from outside of Afghanistan and would be informed of targeted operations only "if the Pakistani military share that with us".
Pakistani Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema was quoted by a news agency as saying: "We have no information of his killing."