Al-Qaeda's Khaled bin Abdul Rahman 'killed by drone'

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A Kuwaiti militant who was one of al-Qaeda's top commanders was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan last week, sources have confirmed to the BBC.

Sheikh Khaled bin Abdul Rahman, known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, died along with 10 others near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, local Taliban sources said.

He was the most prominent al-Qaeda field commander after Abu Yahya al-Libi, killed in a drone strike in June.

Pakistan and the US have not yet officially confirmed the death.

The local Taliban sources told the BBC that Khaled bin Abdul Rahman, 46, had been killed in a drone attack on the village of Mubarak Shahi near Mir Ali last Thursday.

Unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials told the Associated Press that he was buried on Friday.

They said his wife and daughter had been wounded and that his wife died the following day at a hospital in the town of Miran Shah.

Earlier reports had put the number of dead in the strike at three, including an Uzbek militant.

Khalid bin Abdur Rahman had been the head of al-Qaeda's religious affairs wing, and was believed by some to have replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi as number two to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He does not appear on US lists of most wanted terrorist suspects, as Libi did.

On Sunday, another senior al-Qaeda commander was killed in a US drone strike in the same part of Pakistan's tribal region, intelligence officials said.

Mohammed Ahmed al-Mansour was inside a house in the village of Tabbi near Miran Shah when it was hit by missiles.

Pakistan's frontier tribal region is considered a hub of activity by al-Qaeda and Taliban militants and it is very difficult to verify information from the region.

Reporters are prevented by the authorities from travelling to the area.

Militants killed by drones in Pakistan

  • June 2012: Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi
  • February 2012: Al-Qaeda commander Badar Mansoor
  • August 2011: Al-Qaeda commander Atiyah Abd al-Rahman
  • June 2011: Senior al-Qaeda figure Ilyas Kashmiri (according to reports)
  • August 2009: Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud

Drone strikes have increased in frequency since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and hundreds of people have been killed, stoking public anger in Pakistan.

The dead include senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, as well as an unknown number of other militants and civilians. US Navy Seals killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in May 2011.

The US does not normally comment on individual drone operations, but earlier this year it emerged in the New York Times that the US president personally approves or vetoes each drone strike.

Islamabad has called for an end to drone strikes saying they violate the country's sovereignty, but analysts say Pakistan has privately sanctioned such action in the past.

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