Islamabad: Al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri, a key suspect in the Mumbai attacks has been killed in US drone strike, a media report said on Saturday. Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in a US strike BBC reported quoting residents of South Waziristan tribal region.

Kashmiri was the chief of the Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) and was widely believed to have masterminded the May 22 attack on a naval base in Karachi.

A government official in Peshawar confirmed the drone strike to BBC but said there was no confirmation of Kashmiri's death.

The US drones targeted a location 20 km from Wana, one of the main towns in South Waziristan late last night.

A drone fired two missiles at the spot and two more missiles were fired after a short interval, local residents were quoted as saying by BBC Urdu.

Taliban militants among dead

The local residents said Kashmiri was among the nine militants killed in the drone strike. Other officials said all the dead militants were Punjabi Taliban.

The report said Kashmiri came to Wana from the Khyber tribal region 10 days ago and moved to the area where the drone strike was carried out in Friday night.

Kashmiri, the head of the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami has been linked to several major terror attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai strikes and the recent Taliban raid on the PNS Mehran naval airbase in Karachi.

Asked by media persons in Multan about reports of Kashmiri's death in the drone strike, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, "I do not have any information now."

Local residents said the dead militants were buried in a graveyard of the area.

The US recently gave Pakistan time till July – the month when NATO and allied forces will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan – to launch a military offensive in North
Waziristan tribal region and to capture five most wanted al- Qaeda and Taliban leaders, including Kashmiri.

Mullah Omar on US target

The other terrorists on the US list are Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Atia Abdur Rehman.

Reports have said the US and Pakistan have formed joint intelligence teams to track down these terrorists.