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Doubt Cast on French Newspaper Report of Bin Laden's Death

  • VOA News

Officials in France, Pakistan and the United States say they cannot confirm a published report that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead.

The French comment comes directly from President Jacques Chirac, who was asked about the report Saturday at a news conference alongside the visiting leaders of Russia and Germany. He expressed surprise about the story.

A French regional newspaper (L'Est Republicain) published the report about bin Laden. The newspaper said its story was based on a French foreign intelligence document that cites information from Saudi intelligence.

In Washington, a White House spokesman also said he could not confirm the information. A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official made a similar comment.

There have been many reports in the past that bin Laden had died.

The Washington-based IntelCenter, a firm that monitors terrorism communications, tells VOA it has seen nothing to indicate that bin Laden has died. IntelCenter director Ben Venzke says he thinks al-Qaida would release information of bin Laden's death fairly quickly if it were true.

The French newspaper story says bin Laden died of typhoid last month in Pakistan.
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