ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A suspected Islamic militant killed in a shootout in northwestern Pakistan was believed to have been a close associate of Al Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, two intelligence officials said Friday.
The man, suspected to be a Saudi known as Abu Marwan al-Suri, died Thursday in a gunfight with security officials on the outskirts of Khar, a town near the Bajur tribal region close to the Afghan border, the intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to media.
A Pakistani security official died and two others were wounded when the suspected militant opened fire from his vehicle after he was signaled to stop at a roadblock, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.
The man's body has been transported to a hospital in the city of Peshawar for identification.
"Initial information is that he is a close associate of Al-Zawahiri, but we don't know his exact name," one of the intelligence officials said.
Authorities found a video camera, a laptop computer, hand grenades and some documents in the man's vehicle, the officials said.
The second official said al-Suri was thought to have been among several Al Qaeda members killed in a U.S. missile strike in a Bajur village in January that had targeted Al-Zawahiri.
Pakistani intelligence have said that Al-Zawahiri was not at the scene of that attack — for which Washington has not claimed public responsibility. At least four Al Qaeda figures were thought to have been at a house that was destroyed, but their bodies have not been found. Thirteen villagers also died.
Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in its campaign against terrorism. Its tribal areas along the Afghan border have been the scene of scores of military operations against remnants of the Taliban, Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and their local supporters in the past two years.
Bin Laden and his top deputy Al-Zawahiri have long been suspected to be hiding there.
Also Thursday, seven Pakistani troops were killed and 22 wounded in an ambush in the North Waziristan tribal region. Between five to eight militants were killed in subsequent fighting with security forces, army spokesman Sultan said.
The ambush took place near where the military killed seven terror suspects in a raid earlier this month. Senior officials said the dead including an Egyptian, Mohsin Musa Matawalli Atwah, 45, who was on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists for alleged involvement in 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans.