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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 15:12 GMT
Musharraf confirms 'al-Qaeda' hit
Shah Zaman and his family look at the wreckage of their home in Damadola
A number of villagers lost their homes in the strike
Pakistan's president has confirmed that "a close relative" of al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US air strike in Pakistan last month.

Pervez Musharraf also confirmed for the first time that Zawahiri had been expected to be at the house targeted by the US, a military spokesman says.

President Musharraf added that another wanted militant was among five foreigners killed in the bombing.

Eighteen local people died in the raid, sparking widespread anger.

"Five foreigners were killed in the US attack," Gen Musharraf told tribal leaders in north-western Pakistan, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"One of them was a close relative of Ayman al-Zawahri and the other man was wanted by the US and had a US$5 million (4.19 million euro) reward on his head."

He did not name the foreigners who had died in the attack.

Map of Pakistan/Afghanistan border

Shortly after the raid, unconfirmed intelligence reports said three high-ranking al-Qaeda members were among those killed in the raid on a village in the Bajaur Agency region on the border with Afghanistan.

They named Egyptian bomb expert Midhat Mursi - information on whose whereabouts carries a $5m US bounty.

They also named Abdul Rehman al-Misri al-Maghribi, the son-in-law of Zawahiri and reputed head of the al-Qaeda's media operations.

The third person named was Abu Obaidah al-Misri, al-Qaeda's head of operations in Kunar province, just over the border in eastern Afghanistan.

US officials have refused to comment on the attack.

Border village

When news of the attack first emerged, there were reports that Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed.

He has eluded capture since the US overthrew the Taleban in Afghanistan in 2001 - despite a $25m bounty on his head.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Zawahiri could have been an intended target of the strike

Osama Bin Laden's second-in-command is regarded as the ideological brains behind the al-Qaeda network.

The Egyptian has also become its most visible spokesperson, issuing a number of video and audio tapes.

The raid took place in the village of Damadola in the Bajaur tribal area, about 7km (4.5 miles) from the Afghan border.

Jets - or in some accounts a Predator drone - reportedly fired missiles at a particular housing compound in the village.

Reporters who reached Damadola spoke of three houses hundreds of metres apart that had been destroyed.

The US has about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, but Pakistan does not officially allow them to operate across the border.


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