Al-Qa'ida commander killed in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

A key figure in al-Qa'ida has been tracked down with US help and killed by Pakistani security forces in a rocket attack near the Afghan border, officials said yesterday.

Abu Hamza Rabia, said to have been second in command after Ayman al-Zawahri, became al-Qa'ida's operational commander after the arrest of Abu Farraj al-Libbi in May. He was among five people who died in an explosion on Thursday in north Waziristan. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan's Information Minister, said Rabia's remains were identified using a DNA test.

Mr Ahmed said the blast happened when Rabia and four others were making explosives in an al-Qa'ida hideout. But a senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a missile attack triggered a huge explosion in a stockpile of munitions. Another intelligence official said US help was involved in tracking Rabia down and "eliminating the threat" that he embodied.