WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A U.S. official says the death of al-Qaida's chief of operations in Pakistan is a "blow" to the global terror organization.
Sources told CNN Thursday Abu Hafs al-Shari, the terror network's suspected new operational head in Pakistan, was killed in the Waziristan tribal region, but no information on his death was released. The former al-Qaida operations chief in Pakistan, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, was killed in a drone attack in late July.
Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence Michael Vickers said in Washington Tuesday eight of al-Qaida's top 20 leaders have been killed this year and Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus told a congressional hearing al-Qaida's ranks could splinter under pressure and abandon Pakistan.
"The loss of their chief of operations in Pakistan, an individual who played a key operational and administrative role for the group, will pose a challenge" for al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahiri, the unidentified official told the U.S. broadcaster.
With the killing May 2nd of Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri is the lone top al-Qaida leader from 2001 still alive.