Blast kills senior al-Qaida operative in Pakistan

A senior al-Qaida operative has died in an explosion in a northwestern Pakistan tribal area, an intelligence official said Saturday. Hamza Rabia was among five people killed in the explosion Thursday in North Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the official said on condition of anonymity due to the secretive nature of his job. Rabia was believed to be operational commander of al-Qaida militants in the North Waziristan and adjoining South Waziristan, he said. Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao could not confirm Rabia's reported death. The explosion near North Waziristan's main town, Miran Shah, was triggered as suspected Islamic militants were making a bomb, a top government administrator, Syed Zaheerul Islam, said Thursday. Islam said the blast also killed four other people, including two area residents, and left two others injured. He did not identify them. The attack may have been launched from two pilotless planes, the newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.
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