An audio recording purported to be of al-Qaida's No. 2 in Yemen has surfaced on the Internet with the militant figure denying government reports that he was killed in a US drone strike in September.
In the message, a man claiming to be Saudi-born Saeed al-Shihri says reports of his death were a 'rumor to cover up the killing of innocent Muslim civilians.'
The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed.
It was produced by al-Qaida's media arm in Yemen, al-Malahem, and posted on militant websites late on Sunday.
Yemeni officials, speaking anonymously in line with regulations, have said al-Shihri and six others traveling with him died in a September strike on their vehicle.
The missile was believed to have been fired by a US-operated, unmanned drone aircraft.