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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Bin Laden 'aide' killed in blast
Osama Bin Laden (centre) with associate Ayman al-Zawahri (left)  and masked guard
US forces hope to kill or capture Bin Laden himself
An associate of Osama Bin Laden has been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, according to Taleban officials quoted by a Pakistan-based Afghan news agency.

Abu Baseer al-Masri, an Egyptian Islamic militant, died in hospital in the eastern city of Jalalabad on 13 October, two days after a grenade he was handling exploded, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

He was not a senior military commander as erroneous press reports have said

IOC head Yasser al-Serri
The Taleban sources denied that al-Masri had been killed in a US air strike.

But another news service, the London-based Islamic Observation Centre, told the French news agency AFP that he had died while handling an unexploded US bomb and denied that he was a senior al-Qaeda figure.

A splinter became lodged in his back when the delayed-action device went off, IOC said.

It added that a Chinese Muslim and another foreigner were injured in the same blast, but gave no further details.

Minor figure

Abu Baseer al-Masri had lived in Afghanistan for the past 10 years and, as well as being a member of the Egyptian militant group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, served as a group commander in Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Married to an Afghan woman, he ran a guesthouse in Jalalabad for fighters on their way to or from the front.

According to the head of the Islamic Observation Centre, Yasser al-Serri, the dead man was not wanted in his homeland, Egypt, but decided not to return after hearing about the arrest and imprisonment of other Arab Afghan veterans there.

"He was not a senior military commander as erroneous press reports have said," Mr Serri said.

See also:

19 Oct 01 | South Asia
US special forces 'inside Afghanistan'
19 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Terrorism war unites Bush and Jiang
18 Oct 01 | Americas
Life sentences for embassy bombers
16 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: The roots of jihad
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