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U.S. military strike in Pakistan kills Al Qaeda weapons expert

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An unmanned US predator drone killed a top Al Qaeda operative Monday inside Pakistan's tribal belt, even as Pakistan's newly elected prime minister made his first visit to Washington to discuss the war on terrorists with President Bush. The timing of the two events suggests that, as Pakistan's government struggles to form a coherent counter-terrorism strategy, the Bush administration is determined to take matters into its own hands.

Monday's strike is said to have targeted one of Al Qaeda's top weapon makers, an Egyptian national, according to the Dawn, a leading Pakistani English-language newspaper.

A missile apparently fired from a Predator drone killed at least six people on Monday in a compound in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
A security official said the strike might have killed a senior Al Qaeda trainer known for his expertise in chemicals. The official put the death toll at 12.
"Our report suggests that the missile strike might have killed Abu Khabab Al Misri. But it remains unconfirmed," the official cautioned.
The 55-year-old Midhat Mursi As-Sayid Umar alias Abu Khabab was earlier reported to have been killed in a US missile strike in Bajaur's Damadola area in Jan 2006. However, later reports showed that he was not among those killed.
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