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Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed

File photo: Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in an image supplied by Dawn newspaper November 10, 2001. (Reuters)

The US has killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a drone strike in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden has confirmed.

He was killed in a counter-terrorism operation carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday.

Mr Biden said al-Zawahiri had "carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens".

"From hiding, he co-ordinated al-Qaeda's branches and all around the world, including setting priorities for providing operational guidance and calling for and inspired attacks against US targets," the president said in a live television address from the White House.

"Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more," he added.

Now the question arises as to who will be the next chief of Al-Qaeda after Zawahiri. The next in line as per the seniority are Saif al-Adel, Abdal-Rahman al-Maghrebi and Yazid Mebrak of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ahmed Diriye of Al-Shabaab. But there is no clear succession plan yet.

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