Pak Government unaware of Al-Libi killing: Hamid

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Islamabad, Feb.2 : Pakistan's caretaker Interior Minister, Hamid Nawaz, has said that the government is unaware of the killing of senior Al Qaeda leader Abu Laith Al-Libi in a missile attack in South Waziristan.

"We cannot confirm whether Al-Libi was at the house at the time of the attack nor do we know whether missiles had hit the house in Mir Ali or a bomb exploded there," Hamid told reporters at the NADRA Headquarters here.

According to the Daily Times, he said locals had removed dead bodies and other evidence from the scene long before government officials reached the place.

"We cannot confirm Al-Libi's death because the militants had removed bodies from the site where the explosion happened and the security personnel did not find any corpse," he added.

The interior minister said the Scotland Yard team was due to present their report on former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination next week.

Meanwhile, in a separate through related development, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has also said that he could not disclose whether it were Pakistani or American troops who killed Al Libi.

Mullen, who is scheduled to visit Pakistan next week, said: "I'm not going to talk any more about the operational side of this, of how that in fact occurred."

Abu Laith Al Libi, one of Osama bin Laden's top five lieutenants, was reportedly killed in North Waziristan on Tuesday. Earlier reports said a missile fired by a US drone killed Libi.

During a special briefing at the Pentagon, Admiral Mullen also said that so far he had not seen any indication to suggest that support for President Musharraf in the Pakistani military had declined since his retirement.

He told the briefing that he planned to visit Islamabad soon for talks with Gen Ashfaq Kayani and "the rest of the leadership" for talks on America's commitment to help Pakistan fight extremists.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates may also accompany Admiral Mullen, but the Pentagon has not yet confirmed the secretary's visit.

The admiral said the elimination of a key Al Qaeda figure like Libbi "is a very important outcome" in the war against terrorism, but the US remained concerns about the presence of alleged Al Qaeda safe-havens in Pakistan's tribal region.

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