Al-Qaida's wing in Iraq said Tuesday that its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been wounded and urged Muslims to pray for him, according to an Islamic website.
"O nation of Islam... Pray for the healing of our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from an injury he suffered in the path of God," said a statement which was posted on the website that often carries messages from Zarqawi's group, al Qaida Organization for Holy War in Iraq.
"You are the most beloved of the mujahedeen (Islamic fighters), may God help you and give you strength," the statement said.
"The injury of our leader is an honor and gives us incentive to close in on the enemies of God and step up attacks on them," it added.
However, the statement did not specify how or where Zarqawi was wounded and its authenticity could not be immediately verified.
The announcement came following unconfirmed media reports that the Jordanian-born al-Qaida leader visited a hospital for medical treatment in Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad earlier this month.
Zarqawi is the most wanted man in Iraq with a bounty of 25 million US dollars put on his head by Washington. He and his group have claimed responsibility for many devastating attacks and kidnappings in the two years of insurgency in Iraq.