PESHAWAR - Ilyas Kashmiri, the chief of Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) and a key al-Qaida leader has been killed along with his nine companions in a US drone attack in South Waziristan Agency on Friday late night. The death of al-Qaedas military brain in Pakistan a month after Osama bin Ladens death would deal a major blow to the terror network. The 47-year-old is one of the most feared operational commanders of the network that bin Laden founded and has been blamed for a string of high-profile attacks on Western targets, as well as in India and Pakistan. He is widely believed to have masterminded the attack on the PNS Mehran Naval Base in Karachi on May 22. He was also blamed for October 2009 attack on Army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Ilyas Kashmiri is also stated to be one of the possible successors to Osama bin Laden. The sources said that Kashmiri was reportedly in Khyber Agency 10 days back and reached Wana just half an hour before being hit by one of the multiple missiles the US fired at Thatai locality. Eight other militants also died in missile fire. The news of Ilyas Kashmiris killing was first reported by the British Media but it spread in the international media like a forest fire. A foreign news agency quoting security officials in Pakistan on condition of anonymity also confirmed the death of Ilyas Kashmiri. But Prime Yousuf Raza Gilini told reporters near Multan that he had no information regarding Kashmiris killing. A Pakistani official seeking anonymity told to a British television channel that the others who were killed along with Kashmiri were Muhammad Ibrahim, Farooq Ahmed, Ameer Hamzah, Muhammad Usman, Muhammad Nauman, Imran, Abdul Quddos and another person whose name could not be ascertained. A senior Pakistani security official said there were strong indications that Kashmiri had been killed, but that it was impossible to provide 100 percent confirmation so soon after the attack without access to the bodies. The corpses were burnt beyond recognition and swiftly buried. Militants also barred access to the site of the attack in Ghwakhwa in South Waziristan. There are strong indications that he has been killed in the strike, but we cannot confirm it and we are still trying to confirm it, a senior Pakistani official told a foreign news agency on condition of anonymity. Officials said Kashmiri had been in the area for several days and that all those killed were from his HuJI group. The HuJI confirmed the death of Kashmiri while the Taliban said that the HuJI chief was alive and safe. We confirm that our Amir (leader) and commander in chief, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, along with other companions, was martyred in an American drone strike on June 3, 2011, at 11:15pm, Abu Hanzla Kashir, who identified himself as an HuJI spokesman, said in a statement faxed to a television station. God willing ... America will very soon see our full revenge. Our only target is America. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified. A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan faction said Kashmiri was alive and safe, and had not been present at the time of the strike. Kashmiri arrived at Thattai area some 30 minutes before the US drone strike, a private TV channel report said, quoting locals. Locals who claim to have recovered the bodies of those killed in the drone strike told a foreign channel on condition of anonymity that Taliban fighters were seeping tea in a garden when the US drones targeted them. Kashmiri was among the deceased. Another source said that the deceased were buried in a local graveyard. Senior security officials explained that confirmation would be difficult unless Kashmiris family or his group officially announced his death. According to our reports, he was present here in this area. We have information that he has been killed but no one has seen his dead body, local administration official Naimat Ullah told AFP. Another security official said two close associates who usually travel with Kashmiri, Amir Hamza and Mohammad Usman, were killed. Foreign media claimed quoting local sources that Kashmiri came to South Waziristan 10 days earlier from Khyber Agency and was killed in the US drone strike. Official sources further said that those killed in the attack were believed to be militants from Punjab. Kashmiri is understood to have been in the area to discuss strategy should the military launch an offensive in North Waziristan, as has been predicted as part of the fallout surrounding bin Ladens killing. Kashmiri has a maximum US bounty of $5 million on his head and officials said he was the real target of the drone strike. His killing would likely be seen as a huge achievement in the US after Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in Pakistan, itself feted as the greatest psychological victory over al-Qaeda since the September 11, 2001 attacks. This is not the first time that there have been reports of Kashmiris death in a drone strike. He was reported killed in an attack by a US spy plane in North Waziristan in September 2009 but re-emerged a month later to give an interview to Syed Saleem Shahzad, the journalist who was recently abducted and murdered in Pakistan. Defence analysts were of the view that only official confirmation of the killing of Kashmiri was not enough till the Taliban fighters or the al Qaeda did not confirm his death. Counter-terrorism officials believe he was the main coordinator of a terror plot targeting Britain, France, Germany and the United States, which was apparently in the early stages when detected by intelligence agencies in 2010. Kashmiris family in the village of Thattai in Bhimber district, more than nine hours drive from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, said Saturday they had not been in contact with him for six years. We came to know through TV. We dont know whether he is dead or alive, his elder brother Mohammad Asghar told AFP by telephone. Ilyas Kashmiri had been leading a group called the 313 Brigade, which is reported to be a unit of the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami. Indian investigators believe that suspected LeT operatives David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who allegedly helped plan the Mumbai terror attacks, were reporting to the 313 Brigade. On March 2, 2006, HuJI launched a suicide bombing against the US consulate in Karachi which killed four people including US diplomat David Foy and injured 48 others. In January 2010, a US federal grand jury indicted him for terrorism-related offences in connection with a plot to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten following uproar over blasphemous cartoons. Listed on US and UN terror blacklists, Kashmiri was born in 1964 in Azad Kashmir. He is about six feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He has black hair and been seen with a thick beard dyed white, black, or red at various times. He has lost sight in one eye, and often wears aviator-style sunglasses. He is missing an index finger, according to the State Department. Fridays drone attack was the ninth reported in Pakistans border area with Afghanistan since US commandos killed bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2. TheNation Monitoring desk adds: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed the death of Qaeda key figure Ilyas Kashmiri in a US drone attack in South Waziristan Agency, reported a private TV channel on Sunday