WORLD IN BRIEF: Al-Qaida operative killed by US missile

WASHINGTON -- A senior al-Qaida operations planner was killed in an American missile strike this week in western Pakistan, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Friday.

Saleh al-Somali was responsible for the terror group's operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, reaching into activities in Africa. The official said al-Somali was believed to have been involved in plotting attacks against the United States and Europe. He was killed by an unmanned drone missile Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss covert operations, said al-Somali was part of al-Qaida's senior leadership circle and had connections to other Pakistan-based extremists. His role was to take guidance from senior leaders and develop plans for prospective terrorist attacks, the official said.

UN official: Civil effort needs restructuring

KABUL -- The top U.N. official in Afghanistan said Friday he will step down early next year after a rocky two-year tenure marked by a fraud-marred national election and a deadly Taliban attack on U.N. employees.

The departure of Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide provides an opportunity to restructure the civilian side of the international mission as the Obama administration's military strategy kicks into gear.

The 60-year-old Eide, who oversees the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said he will not renew his contract when it expires in March. He said he has asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to start searching for a replacement so the post would not be vacant like it was for two months before he started.

Body of Cyprus president stolen from grave

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Grave robbers stole the corpse of former hardline Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, digging up his coffin during a thunderstorm just before the first anniversary of his death, police said Friday.

The body-snatching horrified people in Cyprus and came as the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are locked in complex reunification talks that have made limited progress.