Friday, January 13, 2006

Zawahiri Killed in Airstrike?

Villagers described seeing an unmanned plane circling the area for the last few days and then bombs falling in the early morning darkness. Eighteen people were killed, according to the villagers who said women and children were among the fatalities.

But Pakistani officials tell ABC News that five of those killed were high-level al Qaeda figures, and their bodies are now undergoing forensic tests for positive identification.

Officials say Zawahiri was known to have used safe houses in this area last winter and was believed to be in the area again this winter.

UPDATE: "Strong Possibility" Zawahiri Was There

Pakistani officials say U.S. aircraft, apparently CIA Predator drones, fired as many as 10 missiles at the residential compound.

UPDATE: "Villagers said the missiles destroyed three houses, leaving five women, five children and eight men dead.... One of the houses destroyed in the attack belonged to Gul Zaman, a member of an outlawed Islamic extremist group, villagers said."

UPDATE: "The houses have been razed to the ground," said Mr. Rashid, who said he had visited the scene. "There is nothing left. Pieces of the missiles are scattered all around. The impact of the explosions have been huge. Everything has been blackened in a 100-meter radius."

UPDATE: Scenes from a Life

In a video after the Sept. 11 attacks, Zawahri called them a "great victory" achieved "thanks to God".

But he has not always been so ebullient.

As U.S.-led forces drove out the Taliban in 2001, Afghan sources described him flying into a fury at the nonchalance of Taliban fighters playing badminton behind the front lines while U.S. bombs rained from the skies.