Officials have confirmed that Ilyas Kashmiri, one of Pakistan’s most senior militants, has been killed in a US drone strike.
Ilyas Kashmiri was key commander of al-Quaeda, and led a group that specialises in co-ordinated Mumbai-style attacks on targets. In September 2009 Pakistani intelligence wrongly claimed that he had been killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, however, it has now been confirmed that during the overnight strike in the tribal region of South Waziristan, he died.
The reward offered for him by the US was $5m (£3.04.m). He is accused of organising multiple attacks on India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Witnesses and locals told the BBC Urdu service that the militants had only recently moved into the Laman village.
According to locals, two rounds of missiles were fired within the space of a few seconds. Kashmiri and his men were apparently taking tea in an apple orchard when they came under fire. He is believed to be one of nine other people killed in the attack.
Kashmiri is believed by many to have been the intelligence behind a daring attack on the Mehran naval airbase in Karachi a month ago. The attack, comprising of six well organised militants, managed to eschew Pakistan’s equivalent of the US Navy seals for 15 hours.
Media access to tribal areas of Pakistan is strictly controlled, meaning it is near impossible to gain direct, independent verification of who was killed in the drone strike. An unnamed Pakistani officer speaking to the BBC confirmed after the strike that Kashmiri was among those killed, and an additional faxed message to two Pakistani channels – Sama TV and Express TV – was sent out by a spokesman claiming to be of the 313 Brigade. The man called himself Abu Hanzallah, and stated that Kashmiri’s death would be avenged against the Americans.