ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s interior minister said Monday he was “100 percent” certain that wanted al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
Rehman Malik’s claim came as suspected American missiles targeted hideouts in the militant sanctuaries near Afghan border, killing at least 16 people.
Malik did not say how his government knew that Kashmiri was killed Friday by a missile, or if it had evidence of his death.
Kashmiri, wanted for attacks in Pakistan and India as well European plots, was wrongly reported to have been killed in a similar strike in Sept 2009. U.S. officials have described Kashmiri as al-Qaida’s military operations chief in Pakistan. He was rumored to be a contender to replace Osama bin Laden as the terror network’s chief.
Clashes Persist Amid Talk of Transition in Yemen
CAIRO — Clashes between government troops and gunmen in southern Yemen on Monday night gave renewed urgency to a debate among Yemeni officials over whether to push through a transitional govern ment or wait for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to return from Saudi Arabia.
Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who assumed control of the country after Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia late Saturday for treatment of wounds sustained during an attack, lobbied for the est ablishment of an interim “unity government,” a senior government official said. Hadi and Foreign Minister Abi Bakr al-Qirbi argued that it was time to sack Saleh, while others more loyal to the p resident called the proposal a “coup,” said the official, who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.
Despite those discussions, Hadi and other government officials continued to insist publicly on Monday that Saleh remains firmly in control and would return to Sanaa, the capital, in a few days.
HRW says Libya rebels detain pro-Gadhafi civilians
BENGHAZI, Libya — Libya’s rebels have arbitrarily detained dozens of civilians suspected of supporting ruler Moammar Gadhafi and at least one has died after apparently being tortured while in custody, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
Since the uprising started in mid-February, rebels have seized control of much of the country’s east and scrambled to set up an administration in their de facto capital of Benghazi. Rebels also hold the western city of Misrata and smaller towns in the western mountains.
Both sides have taken prisoners in the fighting.
On Monday, New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Libya’s rebels to give detainees legal protection and investigate abuses, said researcher Sidney Kwiram.
As of May 28, rebel authorities held about 330 people, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Sunday. It remains unclear how many are civilians because rebel authorities often do not distinguish them from fighters, seeing all Gadhafi supporters as enemies of the “revolution.”
In Benghazi, at least one-third of 118 detainees were civilians, the report said. Of the 20 civilians Human Rights Watch interviewed, none said they had been abused, but none had been able to meet with a lawyer or challenge their detention in court.