Al Qaeda af­firms 2 lead­ers’ deaths

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - — TIMES WIRE RE­PORTS

U.S. drone strikes in Pak­istan killed two lead­ers of Al Qaeda’s South Asia branch this year, a spokesman for the mil­i­tants said, con­firm­ing a ma­jor blow to the af­fil­i­ate only months af­ter its cre­ation.

In an au­dio mes­sage, spokesman Usama Mah­mood said a Jan. 5 drone strike in North Waziris­tan killed Ubaidul­lah, who was in charge of the group’s Afghan af­fairs, and that a later strike killed deputy chief Raja Sule­man. He said both had fought un­der aliases.

His claim cor­re­sponds with the dates of pre­vi­ously re­ported U.S. drone strikes in Pak­istan’s tribal re­gion near the Afghan bor­der.

Mah­mood said U.S. drone strikes had killed about 50 mem­bers of his group, known as Al Qaeda in the In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent. Pak­istani of­fi­cials had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

The CIA’s drone pro­gram, which has killed Al Qaeda lead­ers, Pak­istani Tal­iban fighters and other mil­i­tants hid­ing in the tribal re­gions, has stoked anger across Pak­istan over civil­ian ca­su­al­ties. Since 2004, the U.S. re­port­edly has car­ried out about 400 drone strikes in the coun­try.

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