`US will hit al Qaeda leaders wherever they hide`

Reports claim al Qaeda`s second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi has been killed in Pakistan in a drone strike.

Updated: Jun 06, 2012, 09:10 AM IST

Washington: The US would go after al Qaeda leaders wherever they are hiding in the world, the Pentagon on Tuesday said amidst reports of killing of the group`s second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi in Pakistan in a drone strike.

While multiple American media outlets confirmed the death of al-Libi quoting unnamed officials, both the Pentagon and the State Department refused to confirm or deny his death.

"I have nothing for you on that today," Pentagon spokesman Navy Cpt John Kirby told reporters.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner reiterated the same at his daily news conference.

"Senior leaders of al Qaeda, period, no matter where they are, by virtue of what they choose to do for a living are threats to our security, the security of the American people, and the security of our friends and allies around the world," Kirby said.

"They remain threats. And the President, the Secretary of Defence, have made it very clear that we`re going to deal with those threats, wherever they are," the Pentagon official said.

The New York Times quoted an American official as saying that al-Libi had been killed in a drone strike. The official did not give details about how he had got confirmation about al-Libi`s death.

The official described al-Libi as one of al-Qaeda`s "most experienced and versatile leaders," and said he had "played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts”.

The NYT said the drone strike occurred on Monday in a small village outside Mir Ali, the capital of North Waziristan Province.

Al-Libi`s death had been reported on previous occasions, including in December 2009 after a strike in South Waziristan.