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Senior Al-Qaeda leader killed in Iraq

world Updated: Jan 22, 2012 07:55 IST

AFP
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Police killed a senior leader of Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq in clashes while attempting to arrest him on Saturday, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Majid Hassan Ali, head of the Islamic State of Iraq's operations in the main northern city of Mosul, was killed and 19 Al-Qaeda fighters, two of them Palestinian, arrested in the gunfight south of the city.

"The third division of the federal police ... killed the chief of the ISI in Mosul," the statement said.

It said Ali, who is also known as Abu Ayman, was hiding in the village of Rufaila, just outside Mosul, a former Al-Qaeda bastion in which the jihadists retain a foothold, when federal police forces conducted an assault on the area.

"During the arrests, heavy clashes erupted between the police and the terrorists," the statement said. "During these clashes, he was killed and 19 terrorists were arrested, including two Palestinians."

Federal police officers recovered magnetic "sticky bombs", roadside bombs, and several bags of explosives, as well as weapons and ammunition as a result of the operation, according to the statement.

The ISI, while regarded by analysts and officials as much weaker now than at the height of the sectarian bloodshed that rocked Iraq from 2006 to 2007, remains capable of mounting spectacular mass-casualty attacks.

While violence is down across Iraq, attacks remain common, especially in Mosul. More than 200 people have been killed in violence since the December 18 withdrawal of US forces.