Australian leaders Thursday hailed the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leading member of al-Qaeda, as a boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq.
Prime Minister John Howard told reporters here that the killing of al-Zarqawi is a "great news" for the Iraqi people, saying "he ( al-Zarqawi) has been the principal architect of terrorism in that country (Iraq)."
"Not only does his death remove a cruel terrorist, but it's also a huge boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq," he said.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said, "I am delighted that al- Zarqawi has been killed. I think this is a tremendous tribute to the new Iraqi government and let me also pay tribute to the Americans and the U.S. forces who played a part in this as well."
Al-Zarqawi was killed in U.S. air strike in Baghdad late Wednesday.
"This man al-Zarqawi has been responsible for (the deaths of) thousands upon thousands of people. We're rid of him and that's excellent news," he was quoted by local radio as saying.
Opposition Labor spokesman Kevin Rudd also said al-Zarqawi's death should puncture a hole in al-Qaeda's activities in Iraq.