Al-Qaida leader killed.
A SENIOR al-Qaida operative has died in an explosion in a northwestern Pakistan tribal area, the president said yesterday.
President General Pervez Musharraf, arriving in Kuwait at the start of a three-nation visit to the Middle East, confirmed that Hamza Rabia was among five people killed in the explosion in North Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
"Yes, indeed, 200% confirmed," Musharraf said.
An intelligence official said Rabia was believed to be operational commander of al-Qaida militants in the area. The explosion near North Waziristan's main town, Miran Shah, was triggered as suspected Islamic militants were making a bomb, top government administrator Syed Zaheerul Islam said.
Islam said the blast also killed four other people, including two area residents, and left two others injured, who have not been identified.
But Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported that Rabia, believed to beof Syrian origin, was killed in a missile attack on a mud-walled home in Isori, a village east of Miran Shah.
The attack may have been launched from two pilotless planes, the newspaper said.
Associates who were also from outside Pakistan retrieved the bodies of Rabia and two other foreigners.
Military officials have said hundreds of Arab, Afghan and Central Asian militants are in North and South Waziristan.
Pakistan - a key ally of the US against terrorism - has deployed thousands of troops in the area