PESHAWAR - At least five militants, including the alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot, were killed and six others injured early Saturday when two missiles hit a house in Ali Khel village near Mir Ali town of North Waziristan Agency.
Two foreigners, Briton Rashid Rauf and Egyptian Abu Zubair Al-Misri, believed to be Al-Qaeda activists, were reported killed.
Two missiles, fired from an unknown direction, hit the house of Khaliq Noor.
According to eyewitnesses, the house was hit at 4.
00 am.
Soon after the attack, militants from all over the area reached the site and cordoned off the area.
They did not allow local residents to take part in rescue activities.
It is important to mention here that Ali Khel village is located near Khushhali Torikhel area where Al-Qaeda Commander Abu Laith Al Libi was killed along with others on January 29, 2008.
AFP adds: Also among the five killed was Egyptian Abu Zubair Al-Misri, another wanted Al-Qaeda operative, a senior Pakistani security official said on condition of anonymity.
"The transatlantic bombing plot alleged mastermind Rashid Rauf was killed along with an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative in the US missile strike in North Waziristan early Saturday," a senior security official told AFP.
A Western diplomatic source told AFP the missile was fired from a jet across the border in Afghanistan.
Rauf was arrested in 2006 in Pakistan over the bomb plot, sparking a worldwide security alert, and 24 people were detained in Britain in a major swoop.
A day later a massive security operation at London's Heathrow Airport resulted in mass cancellations for several days, amid fears of a terrorist attack using liquid explosives on London flights bound for the US and Canada.
The British government had requested Pakistan extradite Rauf to London, where he was wanted by police in connection with the murder of his uncle in 2002.
But four years later an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan dropped terrorism charges against Rauf relating to the conspiracy, although its order was suspended when the Punjab government lodged an appeal.
Rauf had then faced charges including impersonation, carrying a fake identity card and fake documents, which he denied.
He had been in custody under the Security of Pakistan Act when he escaped in December 2007 from police custody, although all charges relating to terrorism had been dropped.
The government ordered a high-level investigation of the suspicious circumstances of his escape, in which he broke free from handcuffs and ran off.
Seven other men suspected of being part of the plot to bring down airliners over the Atlantic Ocean in 2006 face a retrial in England after a London jury failed to reach verdicts in September.
Three of the British Muslims were convicted of complicity to murder, a charge the trio had admitted to - but with no one was found guilty specifically of attempting to bring down airliners.
The plot allegedly targeted seven flights from Heathrow - to New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto and Montreal - operated by United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada.
The missile strike which killed Rauf came days after a US drone attack killed six rebels, including an Arab Al-Qaeda operative.
That attack prompted Taliban militants based in the rugged tribal territory bordering Afghanistan to warn of reprisal attacks across Pakistan if there were more strikes by the US.
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office in London said it was probing a report that British man Rashid Rauf, the alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot, was killed in a US missile attack in Pakistan.
"We are currently investigating this at the moment, but we do not have any information," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 23-Nov-2008 here.