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World media abuzz with Kashmiri's death

June 04, 2011 15:24 IST
There have been uncorroborated rumours since Saturday afternoon, claiming that Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the 313 Brigade, an affiliate of the Al Qaeda, was killed in a drone strike by the United States in South Waziristan on Friday night.

The rumours started circulating following a breaking news carried by Dawn on its website stating that according to the Urdu service of the BBC radio, Kashmiri was among nine persons killed in the drone strike.

According to the BBC report as cited by Dawn, officials in South Waziristan told BBC Urdu that a US drone attack targeted a group of armed militants 20 kilometres from the Wana bazaar. The official said the attack killed nine people and injured three others. He added that those killed in the attack were believed to be militants from Punjab. Locals and witnesses told BBC Urdu that Kashmiri had also died in the drone attack. Witnesses said Kashmiri had arrived in South Waziristan from the Khyber tribal region.

The reliable Long War Journal of the US, which documents drone strikes on a day-to-day basis, has reported as follow, " US predators attacked terrorists in an area of the Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan that is under Taliban control on June 3. The strike is the first after a nine-day-long lull. Unmanned predators or the more deadly reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound in the Wana area in South Waziristan, killing five "militants," according to reports from SAMAA and Xinhua. No senior Taliban, Al Qaeda, or allied terror group leaders or operatives have been reported killed in the air strike."

In a report datelined Peshawar, the SAMAA news agency of Pakistan has reported as follows: PESHAWAR: The mastermind of PNS Mehran attack, Ilyas Kashmiri, has been reportedly killed in a missile strike in Miran Shah area of South Waziristan, SAMAA learnt Saturday. Sources told Kashmiri was present when the recent attack took place in the area where five terrorists have been killed including Kashmiri. No official has confirmed Kashmiri's death in the missile attack.

One does not know what is the source of the Xinhua report. The Long War Journal's observation that "no senior Taliban, Al Qaeda, or allied terror group leaders or operatives have been reported killed in the air strike" appears to be its assessment. It has not cited any source for this.

Neither the Pakistani nor the US authorities have corroborated these rumours. A September 2009 report regarding the death of Kashmiri in a drone strike in South Waziristan proved to be false. If Kashmiri has been killed, this will be reflected in the electronic chatter on phones and the Internet. The US authorities must be closely monitoring it. One has to await their confirmation or a statement from the 313 Brigade or the Al Qaeda.


B Raman