Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 15:49 UK

Al-Qaeda confirms fighter's death

Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar. Pic: Rewards for Justice web site
Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar was an Egyptian national

An internet message from al-Qaeda has apparently confirmed that the group's top chemical-weapons expert, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, has died.

The al-Qaeda message did not specify the cause of his death, though he was widely reported to have been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan last week.

Taleban officials had told the BBC he died in the raid, but false reports of his death have circulated in the past.

The US, which has a $5m (2.5m) reward on his head, has not yet responded.

It is believed that the US carried out last week's raid over Pakistan's South Waziristan region.

The al-Qaeda statement, dated 30 July, was posted on a website used by Islamist militants.

The message, signed by al-Qaeda's chief in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, said Midhat Mursi was among a group of "heroes" who had joined "the caravans of martyrs".

"An expert may have gone, but he has left behind - thanks be to God - experts whom he trained," the statement said.

Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, 55, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was an Egyptian national.

The US government's Rewards for Justice website described him as "an explosives expert and poisons trainer working on behalf of al-Qaeda".

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