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Home >> World
UPDATED: 17:40, June 08, 2006
Writethru: Most wanted insurgent Zarqawi killed in Iraq
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Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced on Thursday that the most wanted insurgent in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed.

Maliki made the announcement at a press conference in Baghdad with top U.S. commander in Iraq General George Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

"Today Zarqawi has been killed," Maliki told reporters.

He said that Zarqawi and seven of his top aides were killed in a joined U.S.-Iraqi raid on an area called Hibhib, near Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, on Wednesday evening. Hibhib is about 40 km northeast of Baghdad.

The announcement came six days after Zarqawi showed up in a video tape, calling on followers to launch a war against Shiites in Iraq.

The killing of the most wanted insurgent in Iraq "constituted a message to all those involved in the insurgency against the state, " said Maliki, vowing to "face all kinds of challenges."

"The sole road for the prosperity of the Iraqi people is by means of unity and national conciliation," he added.

"I thank all my citizens for their services and coordination and I also thank the armed forces and the army and the Multi- national Forces for their leading role," Maliki said.

The prime minister, a prominent Shiite leader, also vowed to further efforts in the fight against insurgents in order to restore safety and order in Iraq, while pledging to strengthen national unity.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad described the killing of Zarqawi as "a good omen" to the new Iraqi government and the overall efforts in the war against terror.

Zarqawi's death "did not end violence in Iraq but is a step in the right direction and is a good omen for Iraq, the prime minister and efforts in the global war against terrorism," he said.

Congratulating Maliki on the death of the most wanted man in Iraq, Khalilzad, meanwhile, also warned of "difficult days ahead" in the fight against terrorists, but he stressed that the Iraqi authorities would "continue to fight terrorism and those who want Iraq to fail."

In addition, Khalilzad also called upon Iraqi leaders from all the ethnic groups to stick to national unity and put an end to sectarian violence.

General Casey, on his part, said that the U.S. military would give detailed information on Zarqawi's death at another news conference scheduled for 3:00 p.m. (1100 GMT).

He said that the U.S. air strike came after an intelligence tip- off and that Zarqawi and his aides were believed to be holding a meeting when the raid occurred.

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq also revealed that Zarqawi's whereabouts was pinpointed about two weeks ago and that his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and facial recognition.

"Tips and intelligence from senior leaders of the al-Qaida network in Iraq led the forces to Zarqawi and some of his associates, who were conducting a meeting when the air strike was launched," Casey said.

Zarqawi and his aides "have conducted terrorist activities against the Iraqi people for years", he said, lauding Zarqawi's death as "a significant blow to al-Qaida and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq."

Zarqawi, with a 25 million U.S. bounty on his head, is believed to be the top leader of the al-Qaida terror group in Iraq. He is accused of being behind some of the most gruesome kidnappings and killings including beheadings in Iraq.

Source: Xinhua

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