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Pakistani officials say Al-Qaida Deputy not at Site of Missile Attack


Pakistani officials say al-Qaida's number two leader was not in a village near the Afghan border that was hit by a missile attack on Friday.

Witnesses said at least 18 people were killed in the attack, but government officials in Islamabad told Western news agencies today-Saturday that Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was not at the site.

Citing unnamed intelligence sources, U.S. media reports said the CIA-Central Intelligence Agency had targeted al-Zawahiri in the strike. Defense officials in Washington have not confirmed that the U.S. military launched an air strike in
the region.

Earlier, Pakistan's interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the government was gathering information on what happened.

Witnesses say at least 5000 people gathered just outside the village to protest the attack.

The United States has offered a 25-million-dollar reward for the capture of the Egyptian-born al-Zawahiri, who has been on the run since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. He and Osama bin Laden are believed to be hiding in the
rugged mountains along the border.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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