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Suspected leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq captured

U.S.: One of men may be linked to Egyptian envoy's killing

The U.S. military says Abu Abdul Aziz, left, and Abu Seba are leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide



(CNN) -- U.S.-led coalition forces have captured two alleged leaders of the insurgent group al Qaeda in Iraq, including a man suspected in the death of an Egyptian envoy, an American military spokesman said Thursday.

Troops caught Khamis Farhan Khalaf abd al Fahdawi, also known as Abu Seba, on Saturday in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, after intelligence led them there.

Abu Seba reportedly is a senior lieutenant for` Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and is suspected in this month's attacks on Bahraini and Pakistani diplomats and the killing of Ihab al-Sherif, who came to Iraq to be Egypt's ambassador. (Full story)

Al-Sherif was kidnapped in Baghdad on July 2, and the Egyptian government confirmed his death five days later. (Full story)

In addition, forces detained Abdulla Ibrahim Muhammed Hassan al Shadad, also known as Abu Abdul Aziz, on Sunday in Baghdad. He reportedly is the leader of al-Zarqawi's operations in the Iraqi capital and a key officer for the insurgent group.

The U.S. spokesman said the arrests and recent raids yielded evidence and equipment implicating the men in al-Zarqawi's leadership cell.

Al-Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq.

The United States has posted a $25 million reward for information leading to al-Zarqawi's capture. He has been described as the most wanted man in Iraq.

Suicide blasts at Green Zone

A double-suicide bombing targeted a checkpoint to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone on Thursday, killing one person and wounding five others, police said.

A suicide car bomber struck at around 8:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m. ET), followed seconds later by a bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives.

Among the wounded was a potential third suicide bomber, police said -- a critically wounded man outfitted with a suspected explosive device that had not detonated.

Police discovered wires coming from the wounded man's clothing as they began to move him. He was isolated while an explosives team came to disarm the device.

The U.S. military said the man ran after the second bomber detonated and Iraqi police shot him before discovering the explosives vest.

Two police officers were among the wounded.

The Green Zone is the seat of Iraq's government and U.S. operations.

In other violence Thursday, gunmen attacked a checkpoint near the headquarters of the Iraqi Police Major Crimes Unit in western Baghdad, killing two police officers and wounding four others.

Thursday's attacks come on the heels of a suicide car bombing the day before in the Iraqi capital that killed 27 people -- many of them children.

The bomb went off near a U.S. military convoy as soldiers were handing out treats to children in eastern Baghdad's al-Jaddeda neighborhood.

Iraqi police said most of the dead were children.

The U.S. military said at least seven children and an American soldier were killed and three soldiers were wounded. The attack also left 20 people wounded.

Since the start of the war, 1,756 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

In another suicide attack, a bomber detonated explosives Tuesday inside a Sunni mosque in Jalawlah, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of the eastern city of Baquba, killing two people and wounding 16 others, police said.

The bomber was wearing an explosives-packed vest, a police official said.

Jalawlah is an ethnically mixed town of Kurds and Arabs.

Detainee deaths investigated

The Iraqi interior minister expressed outrage Wednesday at reports on the deaths of detainees in the custody of Iraq's special police commandos.

The circumstances of the deaths are not entirely clear, but police sources said 12 Iraqis were locked in a police van for several hours and nine of them may have suffocated.

"I will not tolerate any human rights abuses by any member of the Ministry of Interior forces," the minister, Baqir Jabbur, said in a written statement. "Any person or persons who are found to be guilty of such behavior will be fired and punished to the fullest extent allowed by law."

Police officers were suspended and taken into custody pending a full investigation, Jabbur said.

Police commandos had arrested 12 Iraqi men at a Baghdad hospital on Sunday and taken them into custody, police sources said. The men had brought an injured comrade to the hospital after a skirmish between insurgents and Iraqi and U.S. forces in Baghdad, sources said.

The commandos returned to the hospital later Sunday with the bodies of nine of the men and three others who were unconscious, police sources said.

Other developments

  • Two Iraqi civilians were killed in separate incidents Thursday in northern Iraq. One died in an insurgent mortar attack near a military checkpoint in Tal Afar, the U.S. military said. Another Iraqi civilian was killed after failing to slow his car as he approached a patrol in Mosul, the military said. The driver failed to yield to warning shots fired at his vehicle, according to a military statement.
  • Gunmen ambushed four journalists working for Iraq's state-funded television station, al-Iraqiya, on Wednesday as they were preparing to interview relatives of victims of a Baghdad car bomb attack, Iraqi police said. Two of the journalists were shot, police said.
  • U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces have concluded Operation Scimitar southeast of Falluja, west of Baghdad, the 2nd Marine Division said. The operation captured 26 suspected insurgents and seized five weapons caches. One of the detainees is accused of planning an April attack on Abu Ghraib prison.
  • CNN's Enes Dulami, Kevin Flower, Odai Sadik, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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