Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, suspected of having played a key role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, has been killed in Somalia, officials say.
Unconfirmed reports say Abdullah and another man were shot dead by Somali government troops early on Wednesday at a roadblock in the capital, Mogadishu.
DNA tests are believed to be under way to confirm the dead men's identities.
Abdullah became the most wanted man in Africa after more than 220 were killed and 5,000 hurt in the 1998 attacks.
The US FBI put a $5m bounty on his head.
Abdullah and a fellow militant were shot dead by Somali Transitional Federal Government forces at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somali security officials told AFP and Reuters.
"Our forces fired on two men who refused to stop at a roadblock. They tried to defend themselves when they were surrounded by our men," TFG commander Abdikarim Yusuf told AFP.
"We took their ID documents, one of which was a foreign passport," he said, adding that medicine, mobile phones and laptops were also found.
Somali sources told AFP that Abdullah was carrying some $40,000 in cash and a South African passport bearing the name "Daniel Robinson".
Issued on 13 April 2009, it indicated that Abdullah had left South Africa on 19 March 2011 for Tanzania, where he was granted a visa.
Halima Aden, a senior Somali national security officer, confirmed that Abdullah was killed at a checkpoint this week, and that he had a South African passport."After thorough investigation, we confirmed it was him, and then we buried his corpse," he told the Reuters news agency.
One source told AFP that the incident took place at about 0200 on Wednesday (2300 GMT on Tuesday) in the Afgooye corridor, a 20km-long strip of land north-west of Mogadishu.
Photographs, published by AFP, of the face of one of the bodies bore similarities to those on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists website.
The two bodies were collected by members of the Somali National Security Agency and then given to US officials for identification, AFP said.
Kenya's Police Commissioner, Matthew Iteere, told reporters on Saturday that he was liaising with Somali officials to get a full report.
"We have been told that there were two terrorists who were killed in Somalia on Wednesday. They were identified as Fazul Mohammed and Ali Dere. That is what we have been told by our counterparts," he said.
The US embassy in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, said it was investigating the reports.
Born in the Comoros islands in the early 1970s, Abdullah is believed to have joined al-Qaeda in Afghanistan during the 1990s.
After the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, which killed 224 people, the US accused him of involvement and issued a $5m reward for information leading to capture.
In 2002, Abdullah was believed to have been put in charge of al-Qaeda operations in East Africa. That year, he was blamed for the bombing of a beach resort in Kenya, which left 13 people dead, and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger aircraft.
In 2007, he survived a US air strike on the southern Somali coastal village of Hayo, near the town of Ras Kamboni.
In recent years, Abdullah is thought to have fought alongside members of the Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which declared allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2010.
Al-Shabab controls much of southern Somalia and has been fighting government forces and African Union troops for control of Mogadishu.
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