U.S. officials say Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, has been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called Libi’s death a "major blow" to the terror network, but would not specify how he was killed.
Unnamed American officials earlier told news agencies that Libi was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region of North Waziristan on June 4.
There has been no confirmation of his death from sources in Pakistan.
Carney described Libi, an Islamic scholar from Libya, as an operational leader and a "general manager" of Al-Qaeda.
"He served as Al-Qaeda’s general manager, responsible for overseeing the group's day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan and he managed outreach to Al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates," Carney said.
'No Clear Successor'
Carney said Libi had a range of experience that will be hard for Al-Qaeda to replicate and that his death brings the terror network closer to its ultimate demise.
“His death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core Al-Qaeda during the past several years and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there is no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities,” Carney said.
Libi is the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the U.S. war against Al-Qaeda since Navy commandos killed Osama bin Laden last year. Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri is now leading the terror network.
Al-Qaeda's core in Pakistan's tribal areas is considered to have been significantly weakened by U.S. drone strikes, which Islamabad objects to.
Pakistan summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on June 5 and lodged a protest over the drone strikes.
Pakistan's Foreign Office said Richard Hoagland, the U.S. charge d'affaires, was "officially conveyed the government's serious concern regarding drone strikes in Pakistani territory."
Islamabad calls the strikes "unlawful, against international law, and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP