PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistani intelligence agents hunted yesterday for the graves of four Al Qaeda militants believed killed in an airstrike near the Afghan border -- bodies that reportedly were whisked away by surviving comrades.
ABC News reported that a master bomb maker and chemical weapons expert for Al Qaeda was killed in the attack on the village of Damadola last week. He was identified as Midhat Mursi, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, who ran an Al Qaeda training camp and has a $5 million reward on his head.
According to ABC, Pakistani officials also said two other terror network officials were killed: Khalid Habib, the Al Qaeda operations chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi, a senior operations commander for the group.
However, Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told The Associated Press that the government does not know the identities of the foreigners believed killed in the missile strike Friday, which officials have said targeted Osama bin Laden's top aide, Ayman al-Zawahri.
''We are still investigating. There's a possibility that some foreigners were there, but we still do not know," said Sherpao, who was in New York with visiting Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Sherpao said the government had not retrieved the bodies of any of the four foreign militants reported killed in the raid. He said the bodies may have been taken by a local pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Faqir Mohammed, who also is being hunted by authorities.
The US government refuses to discuss the airstrike, which has been condemned by Pakistan.
Provincial authorities say the attack killed 18 residents of the Pashtun village, and they also say they believe sympathizers took the bodies of four or five foreign militants to bury them in the mountains, thereby preventing their identification.
''Efforts are under way to investigate further," said Shah Zaman Khan, director-general of media relations for Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
He said authorities were also looking for two pro-Taliban clerics accused of harboring militants, who were allegedly in Damadola and survived the assault.
Intelligence officials say the dead foreigners could be aides of Zawahri, who is thought to have sent them in his place to an Islamic holiday dinner. .