US officials are confident that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s suspected chief bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been killed, reports say.
Asiri is alleged to have been behind the 2009 underwear bomb plot and made devices found on cargo planes in 2010.
Intelligence suggesting he was working on a bomb hidden in a laptop or tablet led the US to ban them on some flights.
A UN report published last week, which also said Asiri might have been killed, said his death would represent “a serious blow” to AQAP’s operational capability.
A Yemeni tribal leader told the Associated Press on Friday that Asiri was killed in a missile strike, along with two or four associates, in Marib province.
AQAP has not commented on the reports or published a eulogy for Asiri, as it has done for other leaders and field commanders killed by the US and its allies.
The US designated Asiri, 36, as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in 2011 and has offered a $5m (£3.9m) reward for any information leading to his capture.
Before joining AQAP, he was part of an al-Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia and was allegedly involved in planned bombings of oil facilities in the kingdom.
Asiri gained notoriety for the recruitment of his younger brother, Abdullah, as a suicide bomber.
In August 2009, Abdullah detonated a bomb concealed within his body in an attempt to…