Musharraf: US raid killed Zawahiri kin

A US missile strike on a Pakistani village last month killed a relative of al-Qaida's No 2 leader and a terror suspect wanted by America, Pakistan's leader said, breaking weeks of silence about the identities of the men.

    Musharraf: We are not doing it just to appease Americans

    The night-time attack - which also killed a dozen residents, including women and children - outraged Pakistanis, who complained it violated the nation's sovereignty.

    Until now, Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, had said only that "foreigners" died in the strike on 13 January in the northwestern town of Bajaur, near the Afghan border.

    But he provided more details on Saturday while visiting northwestern Pakistan, though he did not name the dead terror suspects.

    "Five foreigners were killed in the US attack in Bajaur," Musharraf told tribal elders in the city of Charsada.

    "One of them was a close relative of Ayman al-Zawahiri and the other man was wanted by the US and had a $5 million reward on his head."

    Fateful dinner

    The Pakistani president added that al-Zawahri - the second in command to Osama bin Laden in al-Qaida's - was also expected to be in the town, where the suspects were meeting for a dinner. But Pakistani officials have said al-Zawahiri skipped the event and instead sent his deputies.

    Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, is also bin Laden's personal physician and senior adviser.

    The 13 January air raid targeted
    Bajaur town near Afghanistan

    Both are believed to be hiding in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Pakistani intelligence officials have told The Associated Press that the two men were Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar and Abd al-Rahman al-Maghribi.

    Al-Maghribi was a Moroccan and a relative of al-Zawahri, possibly his son-in-law.

    Umar, 52, an Egyptian, has been cited by the US Justice Department as an explosives expert and poisons instructor.

    Umar is suspected of training hundreds of mujahidin, or holy warriors, at a camp in Afghanistan before the Taliban government was overthrown in late 2001.

    Bodies buried

    Musharraf did not say how he knew that the two men died in the attack.

    Pakistani officials have said that sympathisers buried the five bodies at an undisclosed location that authorities have been unable to find.

    The Americans and Pakistanis have provided little information about the attack. Unmanned Predator drones flying from Afghanistan reportedly fired the missiles.

    Bin Laden (R) and al-Zawahiri are
    said to be hiding in border region

    Pakistan has maintained it was not given advance word of the airstrike, and the foreign ministry lodged a protest with the US.

    On Saturday, Musharraf defended his country's role in the US-led war on terrorism.

    Own safety

    "We are not doing it just to appease Americans," he said. "We are pursuing a campaign against terrorism because it is against our own safety."

    Other terror suspects believed to have died in the strike were Abu Obaidah al-Masri, the al-Qaida chief responsible for attacks on US forces in eastern Afghanistan; and Khalid Habib, an al-Qaida operations chief along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

    It was not clear who the fifth person was.

    The men were gathering in Bajaur to plan attacks this summer in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistani officials have said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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