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Central & South Asia
'Al-Qaeda targets' hit in Pakistan
Reports suggest two wanted fighters were among those killed in suspected US raids.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2008 03:53 GMT

The two missile attacks, both by suspected US drones, came within a few hours of each other [EPA]

Two wanted al-Qaeda operatives are reported to have been killed in a series of suspected US missile strikes on targets in Pakistan's tribal belt.

Security sources on Saturday told Al Jazeera that both Abu Akash al-Iraqi and Abu Jihad al-Masri were among those killed in the attacks, but there was no independent confirmation of their deaths.

"Security sources here are telling us that the man killed was Abu Akash Al-Iraqi, an Iraqi who is said to be a mid-level al-Qaeda operative," Imran Khan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, reported.

"We're also hearing that in a second missile attack there might be another high-value al-Qaeda target - an Egyptian Islamist with a million-dollar bounty on his head - called Abu Jihad al-Masri. But that's not been confirmed either."

The two missile attacks, both by suspected US drone aircraft, came within a few hours of each other on Friday, killing at least 32 people.

Al-Qaeda targeted

In the first attack two missiles hit a pick-up truck and a house west of Mir Ali, a town in the Pakistan's North Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.

The attack killed 20 people, mainly Arab fighters, officials said.

Local reports said that al-Iraqi, described as an al-Qaeda financial co-ordinator, was among the dead.

Later, two further missiles hit a base near Wana, the main town in neighbouring South Waziristan, killing 12 suspected fighters, security sources said.

Al-Masri, an Egyptian described by the US as al-Qaeda's propaganda chief, was also said to be among those killed in Friday's attacks.

The AFP news agency quoted an unnamed Pakistani security official as saying: "The strike was aimed at a vehicle carrying Abu Jihad and two others. The target was successfully hit and all three people were killed."

The US has offered a one-million-dollar bounty for the death or capture of al-Masri, who has appeared in an anti-Western video introduced by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two.

The US state department's Rewards for Justice website accuses al-Masri of being "in charge of al-Qaeda media and propaganda".

But Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Peshawar, cautioned that reports of al-Qaeda operatives killed in missile strikes often turned out to be false.

"There is confusion whenever there is a strike and there is always an attempt to bring out names of suspected al-Qaeda leaders," he said.

"However, in the past those reports have often turned out not to be true. In many cases the suspected individuals that were supposedly killed turned up alive."

Missile attacks

Officials also said that Mullah Nazir, a top Taliban commander, was wounded in the South Waziristan attack.

"Nazir sustained injuries and was rushed to a hospital by Taliban. We are not sure about the seriousness of injuries to him" a senior security official was quoted by AFP as saying.

"In the two strikes the majority of those killed were al-Qaeda operatives and some Taliban local commanders."

Mowaz Khan, a local administration official, also confirmed Nazir, who leads the Pakistani Taliban faction accused by the US of sending fighters across the border, was wounded in the attack.

The attacks came just two days after Pakistan summoned Washington's ambassador to Islamabad to deliver a strong protest over US strikes on Pakistani territory.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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