White House says militant death a 'major blow' to Al-Qaeda

Yemeni Al-Qaeda chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi speaking at an unknown location.
Yemeni Al-Qaeda chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi speaking at an unknown location.REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House on Tuesday hailed the death of Al-Qaeda No. 2 Nasir al-Wuhayshi was a "major blow" to the militant group and to its deadly Arabian Peninsula affiliate.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said US intelligence had confirmed the much-hunted Yemeni militant's death.

Wuhayshi led Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - which was behind several plots against Western targets - and was deputy to Al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"Wuhayshi's death strikes a major blow to AQAP, Al-Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate, and to Al-Qaeda more broadly," Price said.

"Wuhayshi's death removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating these groups."

The White House did not confirm that that Wuhayshi was killed in a US drone strike, as claimed by Al-Qaeda.

"The President has been clear that terrorists who threaten the United States will not find safe haven in any corner of the globe," Price added.

Wuhayshi is believed to have been killed in a CIA drone strike on June 9.

A local Yemeni official told AFP that Wuhayshi was thought to have died in the raid in Al-Qaeda-held Mukalla, in southeastern Yemen.

The US government had offered a US$10 million (S$13.4 million) reward for any information leading to Wuhayshi's capture or killing.