Airstrike forces Taliban to cancel meeting

Sept. 9, 2009 at 12:48 PM
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Pakistani leaders called off a media event following a suspected U.S. airstrike in the tribal regions that allegedly killed top al-Qaida commanders.

Airstrikes from aerial drones believed to be operated by the CIA pounded targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan earlier this week, killing seven, including two foreign militants.

Hakeemullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, canceled his first scheduled appearance before the media in the wake of those attacks.

Reports on the FATA airstrikes claimed that two top al-Qaida leaders were killed in the strikes.

Mustafa al-Jaziri, an Algerian national described as an "important and effective" leader and senior military commander for al-Qaida, and Ilyas Kashmiri, considered "one of al-Qaida's most dangerous commanders," were among the suspected dead.

Kashmiri was released from a Pakistani prison in 2004, where he was detained for his apparent connection to an assassination attempt on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He later joined the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the tribal areas.

Italian news agency Adnkronos contacted the headquarters of Kashmiri on Tuesday, however, reporting the terrorist leader was "completely safe and unharmed."

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