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AP source: CIA strike hits al-Qaida planner

AP Intelligence Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – A U.S. official says a CIA drone strike in early January killed a key al-Qaida operative who was planning attacks on the West.

The official said Thursday the strike on Jan. 10 hit Aslam Awan, who was described as an “external operations planner” inside the organization.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the classified program aimed at militants sheltering inside Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.

The strike was one of the first after a hiatus of some six weeks, after a controversial friendly fire incident at the border in which U.S. forces fired on Pakistani border outposts, killing 24 Pakistani troops in a case of mistaken identity.

U.S. officials have continued to hit al-Qaida targets after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)