Al-Qaida planner killed by US missile

A top al-Qaida operations planner was killed in an American missile strike this week in western Pakistan, a US counter-terrorism official said.

Saleh al-Somali was responsible for the terror group's operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, reaching into activities in Africa.

The official said al-Somali was believed to have been involved in plotting attacks against the US and Europe. He was killed by an unmanned drone missile on Tuesday.

The official, who spoke anonymously to discuss covert operations, said al-Somali was part of al-Qaida's senior leadership circle and had connections to other Pakistan-based extremists.

His role was to take guidance from senior leaders and develop plans for prospective terrorist attacks.

Previously, al-Somali had worked in tribal areas of Pakistan with newly-arrived Westerners recruited by al-Qaida.

Intelligence officials have confirmed that the pace of attacks by armed unmanned aerial vehicles, conducted largely by the CIA, has increased during the Obama administration.

The strikes have fanned anti-American sentiment in Pakistan because they have caused many civilian deaths.

Since January 28, 2008, there have been at least 67 suspected US missile strikes into Pakistan.

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