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'Top militant held near Saddam hometown'

world Updated: Nov 22, 2007 17:06 IST

A senior leader of Al-Qaeda operating in executed dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq and accused of killing 20 policemen has been arrested, police said.

A police officer from Tikrit said Hussein al-Ajeeli, also known as Abu al-Ajeeli, was arrested in a raid on Wednesday in the village of Albo Ajeel near Tikrit.

"The police raided his house after local villagers gave information about him," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Ajeeli is accused of plotting a suicide attack against a police building in Tikrit two months ago which killed 17 policemen, the officer said.

Ajeeli is also suspected of kidnapping and killing three other policemen in Al-Dour town near Tikrit, he added.

US commanders claim that Al-Qaeda militants have fled to northern parts of the country in recent months to escape military assaults launched in the central and western parts of Iraq.