Iraqis Report Death Of al-Qaida Leader

Thursday, May 3rd 2007, 7:40 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD (AP) _ A senior Iraqi official said Thursday that the leader of an al-Qaida front group had been killed in a clash with Iraqi security forces north of Baghdad, but the U.S. military said it could not confirm the report.

Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal of the Interior Ministry said Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed Wednesday night in a battle with security forces north of Baghdad. Al-Baghdadi heads the Islamic State of Iraq, which includes al-Qaida and seven smaller groups.

Kamel said al-Baghdadi's body was in Iraqi custody and would undergo DNA testing.

It was the second time this week that the Iraqis have reported the alleged death of a major al-Qaida figure. The U.S. military has urged caution in both cases.

``We'll go back and take a look at it as we always do when these reports come out,'' military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said Thursday.

State-run Iraqiya television showed photos of a bloated body in a wooden box in the back of a pickup truck that it said was that of al-Baghdadi, but that could not independently be confirmed.

Iraqi officials have released similar reports about the killing or capture of top insurgent figures, including al-Baghdadi, only to acknowledge later that the claims were inaccurate.

In March, the Iraqi military announced al-Baghdadi had been captured in a raid west of Baghdad and had confessed to his identity.

The Iraqis later acknowledged the report was wrong.

On Tuesday, officials reported the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, had been killed by rivals north of Baghdad but the body has not been recovered.