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Al-Qaeda militant among six killed in US strike

A top al-Qaeda operative of Arab origin was among six militants killed in a suspected US missile strike in a remote village in Pakistan's northwest today, TV channels reported.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2008 19:38 IST

A top al-Qaeda operative of Arab origin was among six militants killed in a suspected US missile strike in a remote village in Pakistan's northwest on Wednesday, TV channels reported.

The operative identified as Abdullah Azam al-Saudi was killed when two missiles struck a house at Janikhel area, some 13 kilometres from Bannu city, Geo television reported.

A top police official in Bannu Javed Marwat confirmed the strike, but did not offer any comment about the nationality of those killed and injured.

Al-Saudi is the second top most al-Qaeda operative killed in recent US missile strikes in Pakistan. Egyptian Abu Jihad al-Masri, described by the US anti-terror network as propaganda chief of the Qaeda was killed in a similar missile strike on November one.

Besides the al-Qaeda operative, most of those killed in today's attack were said to be foreign terrorists of central Asian origin.

NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti condemned the attack.

The attack came at a time when Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is attending a conference of top NATO defence officials in Brussels to discuss security and the US missile strikes.

An army statement said that Kayani would inform the NATO senior military officials about the 'implications of drone strikes' in the country's tribal regions.

The targeted house belonged to a local tribesman identified as Dilbar in Indi Khel village in Bannu district and is outside the tribal areas, which US and its allies fear are "safe havens" for top al-Qaeda Taliban fighters.

The missile strike also left seven people wounded.

The latest US strike comes days after US drones targeted a house in north Waziristan killing 13 people, most of them foreigners.

The US is blamed for around 20 missile strikes in northwest Pakistan since mid-August.

Pakistan has strongly protested the attacks on its soil terming them violations of its sovereignty, but the strikes have continued leading to reports that the two nations could have a "tacit deal".

Till now all the missile attacks were concentrated on villages in the tribal belt, where Islamabad government has limited presence and legal power, making notions of sovereignty questionable.

Bannu, however, is considered "settled area" which falls under the direct jurisdiction of the provincial NWFP government.