US missile strike kills al-Qa’ida boss

Posted: September 10, 2008 in General
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AL-QA’IDA’S newly appointed chief in Pakistan, Abu Haris, has been killed in a US missile strike in the country’s tribal areas, according to reports last night.

Intelligence reports said Haris had died from injuries sustained in a major missile strike, launched by the US from an unmanned aircraft, on the compound of militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani in North Waziristan earlier this week.

Pakistani intelligence officials identified the four foreign militants killed in the strike as Abu Qasim, Abu Musa, Abu Hamza and Haris. Between seven and 12 missiles slammed into the compound close to Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, flattening a girls’ madrassa and several other buildings.

Intelligence sources last night described Haris as a “highly trained operative” who had only recently been appointed al-Qa’ida’s Pakistan commander, working closely with the leadership surrounding Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Hamza led activities in Peshawar, the main northwest city, and was believed to be a bomb-making expert. Qasim and Musa were both lower-ranking al-Qa’ida members, officials said.

At least 25 people, including two wives of Haqqani and several close relatives, are believed to have died immediately and another 20 people were injured. Haqqani is said to have been away from the compound at the time.

Haqqani and his son, Siraj, have been linked to attacks this year, including an attempt to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a suicide attack on a hotel in Kabul.

Following his swearing-in on Tuesday night, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari held a press conference with Mr Karzai where they committed to a new era of close co-operation in fighting the war on terror.

Earlier, Mr Zardari expressed dismay over the US cross-border strikes.

France, a member of the US-lead NATO coalition in Afghanistan, also broke ranks yesterday to warn that missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas were “undermining international efforts” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Not only are these creating human tragedies but also situations that have counter-productive effects on the political dynamics we would like to see … a partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the international community,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said.

But US President George W.Bush is reported to have told Mr Zardari in a congratulatory telephone call on Tuesday night to “ignore public opinion” — a remark seen in Islamabad as a reference to the reality that public opinion in Pakistan is overwhelmingly against the US and its incursions.

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