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sonz
01-14-2006, 09:25 AM
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's second-in-command, may have been among victims of a US strike on a Pakistani village that killed 18 people, ABC television reports, citing Pakistan military sources.

The sources said five of those killed in Friday's raid were "high-level al-Qaida figures" whose bodies are undergoing forensic tests for identification, ABC reported.

They said Osama bin Laden's deputy, who has been known to stay at houses in the village, may have been one of the victims.

However, on Friday the US Defence Department denied having conducted operations in the area.

Al-Zawahiri is a doctor who has become al-Qaida's most senior spokesman in videos released in recent months as bin Laden keeps a low profile. He appeared in a new video released last week.

Earlier, Aljazeera reported medical sources as saying that at least 18 people, including women and children, died in Friday's attack in Mamund, in the Bajur tribal zone of eastern Pakistan.

Some witnesses told Aljazeera that about 30 people were killed when helicopters launched missiles on a village in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.



Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, the Pakistani information minister, said on Saturday: "Our investigation is still going on ... I cannot confirm anything."
Aljazeera + Agencies
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sonz
01-14-2006, 01:43 PM
AYMAN AL ZAWAHRI -- Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in the Al Qaeda network, may have been among those killed in yesterday's CIA airstrike in a remote Pakistani village, knowledgeable U.S. sources told CNN.

U.S. officials said they are currently investigating the possibility that the Egyptian doctor had been killed.

But there has been no confirmation that AL ZAWAHRI was killed in the attack, which took place in the village of Damadola, near the Afghan border, nor did the officials admit that U.S. warplanes or unmanned Predator drones fired precision-guided missiles on at suspects hide-outs in the area, as Pakistani officials and eyewitnesses asserted Friday.

The Pakistanis said the attack killed at least 18 people and hurt six others.

Senior U.S. counter-terrorism official claimed that the compound that had been attacked was known to be frequented by Al Zawahiri as well as other top Al Qaeda members.

Also Pakistani sources informed officials in the U.S. that they believed ZAWAHRI might have been among those killed in the strike, the official said.

U.S. authorities had been planning for a strike in the area for months as they suspect Al Zawahri could be hiding there, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

He acknowledged that false reports of ZAWAHRI's death have been made from time to time, but said that "there is something different about this one".

"This seems to have validity."

This is the second such strike inside Pakistan within a week.

Pakistan's information minister said he can't assert AL ZAWAHRI had been killed in the CIA strike, and the Pentagon and the White House declined to comment on the reports.

The deadly airstrike which claimed the lives of more than 18 Pakistani civilians came just days after Pakistan protested to U.S. military operations in AFGHANISTAN after eight Pakistanis were killed last week in cross-border firing in nearby Miran Shah, Waziristan.

Pakistani intelligence sources said that the eighteen people killed in Friday strike included eight men, five women and five children, adding that three homes were targeted.

"We are conducting tests to identify the bodies," a Pakistani intelligence official told CNN.

14 of those killed in the strike belonged to one family, witnesses said, and Haji Haroon Rashid, the Bajaur lawmaker, said he witnessed the attack and asserted that a spy plane had been hovering over the area for days.

"I saw four aircraft enter the area from Kunar province, which circled over the area for half an hour," resident Mohammed Rafiq said. "The planes made several sorties and fired missiles, which caused loud explosions."

"I left my bed immediately after hearing the loud noise of planes. Thousands of other people were also watching the aircraft for half an hour, which fired nine missiles," Rashid said.

"They killed innocent children and women who have absolutely no connection with terrorism."
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