US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen

RADICAL US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed with several other suspected al-Qa'ida operatives, the Yemeni defence ministry said tonight.

The ministry did not elaborate on the circumstances of Awlaki's death in a statement released to the media.

A senior US official confirmed Awlaki's death.

"I can confirm... he's dead," the senior administration official said, without providing further details.

But tribal sources said Awlaki, who was on a US wanted list, was killed in an air strike which hit two vehicles in Marib province, an al-Qa'ida stronghold in eastern Yemen, early today.

One tribal source said the plane that carried out the strike was likely to be American, adding that US aircraft had been patrolling the skies over Marib for the past several days.

The Yemeni defence ministry had previously announced Awlaki's death late last year.

On December 24, the Yemeni government said he had been killed in an air strike only to admit later that he was still alive.

In February, the director of the US National Counterterrorism Centre, Michael Leiter, told US members of congress that Awlaki probably posed "the most significant risk" to the United States.

Awlaki, a US-Yemeni citizen who had eluded capture for years, was believed to be a key leader of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

In April last year, a US official said President Barack Obama's administration had authorised the targeted killing of Awlaki, after American intelligence agencies concluded the cleric was directly involved in anti-US plots.

US intelligence officials believe Awlaki was linked to a US army major who allegedly shot dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a US airliner on December 25, 2009.

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