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USS Cole Bombing Suspect Killed In Air Raid

An al Qaeda leader wanted in connection with the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole has been killed in an air raid in Yemen, a tribal chief has said.

The United States has confirmed that Fahd al Quso died in the attack on Sunday, verifying earlier reports by local officials.

Following his death al Qaeda militants attacked an army base in the southern Abyan province, killing 20 soldiers and capturing 25, according to the Yemeni military.

" Fahd al Quso , who was wanted by the United States for the attack against the USS Cole, was killed tonight (Sunday) in an American raid on the Rafadh region," tribal chief Abdel Magid bin Farid al Awlaki said.

Al Qaeda, which has strongholds in southern and eastern Yemen, confirmed Quso's death in a text message sent to the media.

The October 2000 attack on US Navy destroyer USS Cole, in Yemen's port of Aden, killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 more.

Quso's name featured on an FBI list of most wanted terrorists, along with a reward of up to \$5m for information leading to his arrest.

He died when two missiles exploded near his home in Rafadh, east of Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa province, the tribal chief said, adding that two bodyguards were also killed in the raid.

A US government official welcomed the death of the "senior terrorist operative," saying he had been actively planning attacks against America and Yemen.

"Fahd al Quso was a senior terrorist operative of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was deeply involved in ongoing terrorist plotting against Yemeni and US interests at the time of his death," said the official, who did not want to be named.

"He was also involved in numerous attacks over many years that murdered Americans as well as Yemeni men, women and children."

The Yemeni embassy in Washington also confirmed the death of "one of the most wanted terrorists in Yemen."

Al Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the attack on the USS Cole, which was carried out when militants on a skiff loaded with explosives blew a 30-ft hole in the warship.