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Pakistani Leader Confirms Al-Qaeda Commander Killed

(RFE/RL) 3 December 2005 -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said today he is certain of the killing of a top Syrian Al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan.

Asked by reporters upon his arrival in Kuwait to confirm a newspaper report that Hamza Rabia was killed in a missile strike on 1 December, Musharraf said, "Yes indeed, 200 percent confirmed. It was in one of our agencies, North Waziristan agency. It's a place called Mirali town. A little north of this town, that is the place and I think he was killed the day before yesterday."

The Pakistani English-language daily "Dawn," citing unidentified sources, said Hamza Rabia was Al-Qaeda's operational commander and was among five militants killed in the missile attack on 1 December on a house in northern Waziristan.

However, the Al-Arabiyah television station said today it was contacted by a person claiming to be from Al-Qaeda who denied the death of Rabia. Neither claim could be independently verified.

(news agencies)