The attack had targeted second or third tier al Qaeda leaders, according to residents in the tribal area.


A western official said on Thursday that there are "strong indications" that al-Libi, has been killed.


"Indications are at this point that Abu Laith al-Libi is dead," the official said. "They are very strong indications."


The official, who asked not to be identified, would provide no details on where or how al-Libi was killed.

Tribesmen in in Pakistan's North Waziristan region had said a deputy of al-Libi had been staying there and was among the dead, according to an intelligence official.


Al-Libi, a Libyan, appeared with Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda second-in-command, in a video issued in November to announce that a Libyan Islamist group had joined the organisation.


Islamist websites have carried messages from al-Libi, including one in May in which he said al Qaeda in Afghanistan was willing to exchange prisoners with Britain and other Western countries.