MIRAMSHAH, April 13: Nine militants, including a top Al Qaeda operative carrying a bounty of $5 million on his head, have been killed in an air strike six kilometers from here, senior security officials said.
Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah alias Abdur Rehman alias Abu Muhajir, wanted by the US for his involvement in the 1998 bombings on American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, was killed in an attack on Wednesday night, the officials said. The 41-year old militant was said to be from Egypt.
“His death has been confirmed,” officials working for different agencies said. “The confirmation is based upon multiple intelligence sources,” one of them said.
Cobra helicopter gunships attacked in pairs from 11pm till 11:30pm, destroying a compound located near a Madressah in the Anghar village.
“He (Atwah) had been living here for quite some time”, one of the security officials said.
Four to six other foreign militants, whose nationalities could not be ascertained, had also been killed in the attack along with four tribesmen, the officials said.
Militants removed the bodies of their slain comrades immediately after the attack and buried them at some unknown location, making it difficult for the security officials to obtain their remains for DNA tests, the officials said.
They said the four tribesmen killed in the air strike were buried in the local graveyard.
Local people in Anghar confirmed the death of foreign militants, including “an importnat man” whom they identified as Abu Turab.
The officials said that the attack had been planned in the light of information extracted from 19 militants captured in a successful ambush by security forces on April 5 in the Shawal region of North Waziristan.
The militants had attacked a Pakistani security post, killing four soldiers after carrying out an operation inside Afghanistan.
The militants had told interrogators that weapons for the attack in Afghanistan had been provided by the Egyptian.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed the sting operation in Anghar, but declined to comment about the death of the senior Al Qaeda operative.
Local authorities quoted intelligence sources as saying that the helicopter gunships had targeted a senior Al Qaeda operative code-named Abu Turab.
“We had information about the presence of Al Qaeda people in a compound in Anghar village. Troops launched a sting operation and hit the compounds from Cobra helicopters”, ISPR spokesman Gen Shaukat Sultan said.
“I cannot comment about the presence or killing of any senior Al Qaeda man in the operation,” Gen Sultan said.
He said that security forces were unable to retrieve the bodies of the militants killed in the attack.
Villagers said that Abu Turab was an Arab, who commanded militants in the North Waziristan Agency near the Afghan border.
Two vehicles laden with weapons, which were parked inside the compound, were also destroyed in the operation, the villagers said.
“Cobra helicopters fired missiles. Later, one of the helicopters dropped a big bomb, completely destroying the compounds,” said one witness.
Sources said that Abu Turab had been staying in the ‘hujra’ (guestroom) of one Jalendhar Khan along with four other foreigners when Cobra helicopters struck the compounds, killing everyone inside.
The helicopters targeted another house owned by Mohammad Akbar in which four tribesmen, including a child, were killed. A woman was injured in the attack, hospital sources said.