Mon, Dec 29, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Al-Qaeda in Iraq fugitives caught after manhunt

AFP AND AP , RAMADI AND BAGHDAD, IRAQ

Two al-Qaeda in Iraq prisoners who broke out of a police jail in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi were arrested early yesterday, hours after their accomplice was killed by Iraqi police snipers, police said.

The arrest of the two men brought to an end a dramatic series of events that began early on Friday when the three local al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders escaped from cells in Forsan police station triggering a deadly firefight that killed 13 militants and policemen.

The man shot dead on Saturday by Iraqi forces was Imad Ahmed Farhan, nicknamed “Imad the Killer” because police say the operative had confessed to murdering at least 100 people and setting more than 100 roadside bombs.

Farhan’s accomplices, Abdel Aleem and Lazeem, were arrested in the central Ramadi district of Andaluz early yesterday following a desperate manhunt that lasted nearly two days, Ramadi police major Alaa al-Jassam said.

“They are now being held in a police station in Ramadi,” Jassam said.

Farhan’s accomplices were found hiding in water tanks in a private home, said Udai Mohammed Daud, an intelligence police captain.

“They were arrested on the second floor of a home, hiding in water tanks,” said Daud, adding they had taken the suspects without firing a shot after receiving a tip.

Farhan, 32, was killed by sniper fire around midday on Saturday after a fierce gun battle in which he had taken a family hostage in a home on Street 20 in the center of Ramadi, capital of Anbar Province in western Iraq, police said.

Police had been carrying out a massive manhunt since Friday and found Farhan holed up in a home in central Ramadi. They were alerted to his whereabouts when one of the hostages was able to get word to a neighbor.

“The female hostage got to the back of the house and was able to tell her neighbor that they were hostages and that a terrorist was there,” said Colonel Salah Arar, commander of the southern sector of Ramadi police.

“We took a police unit and a sniper squad with us and we identified the room in the house where he was,” Arar said.

“One of our snipers shot him but only wounded him. Then as he tried to move across the roof from one house to another, one of our snipers shot him five or six times,” he said.

Pictures of a man alleged to be Farhan showed a body riddled with bullet holes.

Police raided the home of Farhan’s sister on Friday and confiscated his passport and his national identity document in case he tried to flee abroad, Ramadi police captain Mohammed Daud said.

Meanwhile, a pair of car bombs killed more than two dozen people on Saturday, shattering a recent period of calm and serving as a grim reminder that recent gains remains fragile as Iraq prepares to take over security responsibilities for much of the country.

The attacks included one in the Baghdad — the first major attack in more than a week — that killed at least 22 people and injured 54.

Although violence has dropped by more than 80 percent around Iraq and particularly Baghdad, the US military has repeatedly said the improved security conditions remain fragile.

Iraq will assume control over much of the country on Thursday under a security pact that replaces an expiring UN mandate. The new agreement gives Iraqi authorities a role in approving and overseeing US military operations and requires that US troops withdraw from Baghdad and other cities by the end of June. They must leave the country entirely by Jan. 1, 2012.

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