Anwar al-Awlaqi, the US-born radical Muslim cleric, who has been linked to 9/11, was killed in Yemen

US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, a prominent al-Qaeda chief described by US officials as "the most significant risk" to the United States, was killed yesterday in what analysts called a "significant blow." A senior US official confirmed Awlaqi's death after an announcement by the Yemeni defence ministry. "I can confirm... he's dead," the senior administration official said, without providing further details.

Major setback: Anwar al-Awlaqi's Internet sermons had made him a
leading figure in al-Qaeda. His death has been called a significant blow
to the terror outfit. File pic/AFP

In Sanaa, the defence ministry said Awlaqi was killed yesterday morning but did not elaborate on the circumstances of his death. Tribal sources said that Awlaqi, who was on a US wanted list, was killed in an air strike on two vehicles in Marib province, an al-Qaeda stronghold in eastern Yemen.

Several other suspected al-Qaeda operatives were also reported killed. One tribal source said that the plane that launched the sir strike was likely to have been American. "US planes have been flying overhead for days now," said the tribal source who requested anonymity.

"Then in the morning, what appeared to be a US aircraft fired on the two cars Awlaqi and his fellow operatives are believed to have been travelling in," he said. US Republican Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called Awlaqi's killing "a great success in our fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates."

"For the past several years, al-Awlaqi has been more dangerous even than Osama bin Laden had been. The killing of al-Awlaqi is a tremendous tribute to President (Barack) Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community," he said.