ISLAMABAD, June 4 (Xinhua) — The militant group “Harkatul Jihad al-Islami” confirmed Saturday that its leader Ilyas Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region late Friday night.
Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the most wanted militants by Pakistan and the United States, was among nine militants killed in the U.S. air strike, the BBC Urdu website had earlier reported.
Abu Hanzala,, a purported spokesman for the militant group, confirmed the death of Kashmiri, the mastermind of the brazen attack on a naval air station in Karachi last month, which killed 10 Pakistan navy personnel.
“We confirm the martyrdom of our leader Ilyas Kashmiri in U.S. drone strike,” the spokesman said in a hand-written statement sent to local media, Dawn and Express TV channels reported.
“We will take revenge of our leader on the U.S.,” Abu Hanzala said in the statement.
Kashmiri was killed when he was having tea with other militants in the village of Laman, about 10 kilometers from Wana, the center of South Waziristan.
Kashmiri was among the five most wanted militants, whose names were given to Pakistani authorities by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Islamabad last month.
Kashmiri was thought to be one of potential successors to the slain al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.
The strike came days after Pakistan and the U.S. formed a joint intelligence network to hunt down the most wanted militants including Ilyas Kashmiri, Mullah Mohammad Omar, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Atiya Abdur Rahman and Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The death of Kashmiri is believed to be a second major blow to the terrorists after Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid on his hideout in Pakistan on May 2.