Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Sunni militant leader captured

BIG FISH Iraqi and US forces seized a leader of Ansar al-Sunnah, but Sunni militants were unfazed, claiming responsibility for a tanker truck attack that killed 32 in Baghdad


Iraqi authorities said a leader of Ansar al-Sunnah, a group linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq that is responsible for kidnappings and beheadings, has been captured by Iraqi and US forces.

Elsewhere, a bomb blew up a kerosene tanker truck in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood yesterday, killing at least 32 people, police said. A Sunni militant group claimed responsibility.

"This operation comes in reaction to the crimes of the [Shi'ite militia] Mehdi Army against our Sunni kin in Baghdad," said Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba of the Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions in a statement posted on the Internet.

Muntasir Hamoud Ileiwi al-Jubouri and two of his aides were arrested in Muqdadiyah, 90km northeast of Baghdad late on Friday, Brigadier Qassim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the General Command of the Armed Forces, told reporters.

He was arrested in al-Taeyh, a village south of Muqdadiyah, al-Mussawi said. The General Command of the Armed Forces is the prime minister's military office.

Documents and assault rifles were seized with the three men, but no details were available.

Defense ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told Iraqi state TV that he was arrested by soldiers from the 3rd brigade of the Iraqi army's 5th division.

Ansar al-Sunnah, a Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide attacks, the August 2004 execution of 12 Nepalese hostages and a December 2004 explosion at a US military mess hall in Mosul that killed 22 people. It is believed to have been an offshoot of another group, Ansar al-Islam.

That group is made up mostly of Kurds with close links to al-Qaeda. It is blamed for a number of attacks, including assassination attempts against Kurdish officials.

Ansar al-Sunna is part if the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of insurgent groups -- including al-Qaeda in Iraq -- that was co-founded by the late Jordanian-born terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In the Sadr City attack, another 38 people were wounded by the 10am blast in the sprawling Shiite slum. People frantically carried survivors from the narrow muddy street to ambulances, and hauled away bodies in blankets.

The bomb was hidden in a barrel near the tanker, where scores of people were waiting to buy fuel, said police Colonel Saad Abdul-Sada.

A crowd of people was gathered behind the truck, with a long line down the street when the bomb exploded, Abdul-Sada said. There were more people on hand than usual as families sought to stock up on fuel for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said.

In the aftermath of the blast, sandals of all sizes littered the ground, scattered around a large pool of water mixed with blood.

"I swear to Allah that this is a revenge against Sadr City," a young man yelled, raising his hands in the air. "Where is [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki's government?"

Seventeen women were among the dead, Abdul-Sada said, adding that casualties were expected to rise.

Meanwhile, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has purportedly appeared in video as the executioner of a Turkish hostage -- making his first appearance since taking over the group in June -- according to a statement posted with the recording on the Internet.

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