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BREAKING NEWS

Hamza bin Laden was killed in US counter-terrorism raid, says Donald Trump

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Hamza Bin Laden
Hamza Bin Laden -
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AFP
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US President Donald Trump says that Hamza bin Laden has been killed in a US counter-terrorism operation on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"Hamza bin Laden, the high-ranking al Qaeda member and son of Usama bin Laden, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region," said Trump in a statement

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father but undermines important operational activities of the group.

"Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups."

The death of bin Laden was announced in August but this is the first time the White House has confirmed that he was killed in a US airstrike.

al-Qaeda

Trump declined to comment after NBC News first reported the killing in August.

Asked if he had intelligence that bin Laden's son had been killed, Trump said: "I don't want to comment on it."

Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and spent time with him in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011. Hamza was thought to be under house arrest in Iran at the time, and documents recovered from the compound indicated that aides had been trying to reunite him with his father.

Introduced by al Qaeda's chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message in 2015, Hamza provided a younger voice for the group whose ageing leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world galvanized by Islamic State, according to analysts.

Royal order

Hamza had called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for his father's killing, the US State Department said in 2017 when it designated him as a global terrorist.

He also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged tribal groups in Saudi Arabia to unite with Yemen's al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to fight against Saudi Arabia, it said.

In March, Saudi Arabia announced it had stripped Hamza bin Laden of his citizenship, saying the decision was made by a royal order in November 2018.