ANTANANARIVO (AFP) - Authorities in Madagascar has confirmed the killing of a Saudi businessman and brother-in-law of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Police chief Claude Ramananarivo said Thursday an armed gang of about 10 attacked and killed Jamal Khalifa early Wednesday in his hotel room in Sakaraha, some 850 kilometres (530 miles) south east of the capital Antananarivo.

"The murder happened around 1:30 am (2230 GMT) in the morning around Sakaraha. Jamal Khalifa was attacked by about 10 bandits. He was in a hotel. They stole a laptop computer and a suitcase," Ramananarivo told AFP.

"Jamal Khalifa frequently travelled between here and abroad. He does not have permanent residence in Madagascar," said Desire Rasolofomanana, the minister of state in charge of security.

"He recently arrived with his associates."

Rasolofomanana could not say what was the motive behind Khalifa's murder, but added that a Saudi delegation had arrived in the country to pick Khalifa's body.

On Wednesday, his brother, Malek Khalifa insisted that the deceased, a gems trader, had no links with bin Laden despite being a brother-in-law of the Saudi-born Al-Qaeda chief, who has been disowned by his family.

Copyright 2007 Agence France Presse.