U.S.: No confirmation of Kashmiri death

June 6, 2011 at 11:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- Pakistan claims Washington has confirmed the death of senior al-Qaida leader Ilyas Kashmiri but the State Department said there's been no such confirmation.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters he didn't "have any confirmation of that" when asked about Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani's reported statement: "The U.S. has confirmed that Ilyas Kashmiri was killed on Friday."

When pressed about what the State Department had to say on the issue, Toner said: "I would just reiterate we have no confirmation."

Toner said he was aware of the news reports but added. "I both have no comment and no way of confirming his death."

Gilani spoke of U.S. confirmation of Kashmiri's death while addressing reporters in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.

There have been numerous reports in Pakistan that Kashmiri, described as a notorious terrorist and likely to take over the leadership of al-Qaida following the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike Friday in South Waziristan, along with eight other militants.

The Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami group, or Huji, led by Kashmiri, later announced he had died.

If confirmed, Kashmiri's death would be the second major blow to al-Qaida in a month -- after bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist who was killed May 2 by a U.S. Navy SEAL team during a raid on his compound in Pakistan.

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