Middle East News
Al-Qaeda senior leader is reported captured in Samara (Roundup)
Sep 30, 2007, 14:54 GMT
Baghdad - A senior al-Qaeda leader was arrested on Sunday during joint US army and Iraqi police raids in west Samara, while reports of separate acts of violence, including the assassination of a prominent party member, also surfaced elsewhere in Iraq.
The 'fierce gunfights' between the forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Samara also left 10 militants killed and eight wounded, reported Arab broadcaster al-Arabiya.
The arrested al-Qaeda senior, Abdel-Rahman al-Anbary, was said to have fled the northern Anbar province to Samara, 125 kilometres north of Baghdad, in Salahaddin province after security surges were launched in Anbar.
Al-Anbary and his followers had reportedly poured into Samara and used its demography and the unpopulated countryside surrounding it to form a hideout.
A large cache of weapons and explosives was reportedly confiscated in the same raid, according to al-Arabiya's report. The US-Iraqi operation has been raging since dawn on Sunday.
Separately, unknown gunmen killed a member of the Sunni Islamic Iraqi Party, which is a member of the Iraqi Accord Front with 44 seats in parliament.
Ali Momtaz Ibrahim and three of his accompanies were shot down and died immediately in the Wehda district, south-eastern Mosul, according to the Iraqi News Agency (INA).
An Iraqi army statemkent meanwhile said Iraqi troops killed over 40 militants and captured 52 in the past 24 hours. The raids had targeted Baghdad, Mosul, Samara and Hilla, according to the independent Voices of Iraq news agency.
The agency also cited police sources who said at least five people -including three al-Qaeda-affiliated militants and two civilians - were killed during separate acts of violence in the past 24 hours.
Around seven unidentified corpses were also discovered in Baquba, said the sources. The body of a kidnapped Iraqi soldier was found in Diwaniyah. He had disappeared on Saturday night.
Separately, broadcaster al-Arabiya had earlier showed pictures of black smoke over the Dora area, southern Baghdad, where 'a possible explosion may have occurred,' according to the news source.
The nature of the explosion was not disclosed and it was not reported by local news sources. But US Apache combat helicopters were seen hovering over the area.
On September 26, the US military had captured 14 al-Qaeda suspects from the Dora area, where Sunday's violence was suspected.
The US military said Sunday afternoon they had received multiple reports of 60 armed 'terrorists' in the Dora region. It is not clear if Sunday sightings were connected to a possible raid on the area.
Meanwhile, US-led coalition forces said Sunday that three Sunni imams from separate mosques were slain in Nineveh province a day earlier by gunmen suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The imams preached in al-Hoda, al-Sediq and al-Sahabah mosques in Mosul.
'It is so very tragic and saddening that these murders occurred, especially during the holy month of Ramadan,' said Major General Benjamin Mixon, commander of multinational Division North. 'It is a time traditionally associated with peace and forgiveness between Muslims.'
This incident was under investigation by Iraqi police, according to the US statement.
In a separate statement, the US military said their forces detained 15 suspected criminals believed to be senior members of a special network with ties to other suspected criminals.
According to a US military report, intelligence had also indicated that the area is frequented by the network's commander who is involved in weapons smuggling throughout Iraq.
Also on Sunday, the military said that Iraqi and US special operation forces had detained 16 suspected terrorists a day earlier in Yusifiyah, outside of Baghdad. The militants belong to a cell believed to responsile for violence and with links to al-Qaeda group in Iraq.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur