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Osama’s top aide killed, says Tass

Moscow, Oct. 3 (AFP): Ayman al Zawahiri, considered Osama bin Laden’s top aide, has been killed in Afghanistan, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported today, citing informed sources.

In a report from Islamabad, the agency cited sources as saying that al Zawahiri was not killed in fighting but in a special operation carried out by unidentified individuals.

However, US military officials in Afghanistan sought to discredit the Tass report.

“I do not have any information relating to this,” US military spokesman Lt Col Roger King said.

“As far as I know, this is a rumour and nothing more.”

An Afghan military chief said in December 2001 that Zawahiri had been injured and possibly killed in an air attack near the Tora Bora cave complex.

However, German intelligence sources said in September 2001 that bin Laden and Zawahiri were still alive in a remote mountainous region on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician, was said to be the number two man in bin Laden’s al Qaida network and its chief financier.

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