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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2006, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
US doctors begin Zarqawi autopsy
Bombed buildings where Abu Musab Zarqawi said to have been killed
The US now says Zarqawi did not die instantly in the bombing
Two US doctors have begun an autopsy on the body of top militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a US-led operation in Iraq this week.

Questions have arisen over how Zarqawi died since the Americans revealed he had still been alive following the bombing of a safe house by US planes.

It is unclear if Zarqawi's remains will be released to his family in Jordan.

President George W Bush said US-led and Iraqi forces would use Zarqawi's death to crack down on insurgents.

Coalition and Iraqi forces are seizing this moment to strike the enemies of freedom in Iraq
US President George W Bush
But he said the efforts would require more sacrifice and continued patience from the American people.

"Coalition and Iraqi forces are seizing this moment to strike the enemies of freedom in Iraq at this time of uncertainty for their cause," he said in a weekly radio address.

Iraq has seen more violence with at least 18 people killed in several attacks in Baghdad and Mosul:

  • At least three died when a roadside bomb reportedly aimed at a police patrol strikes a market in the centre of the capital

  • Hours later, a car bomb killed at least six and injures at least 18 in the popular shopping area of Karrada

  • Four Sunni Arabs were shot dead after gunmen stopped a bus travelling from the western Abu Ghraib district

  • In Mosul, five butchers were shot dead in a shop.

Sensitive operation

"The autopsy is going on right now as we speak," Maj Gen William Caldwell, a senior spokesman for the US-led coalition, said in Baghdad.

"We are doing the autopsy to see how he actually died. It will be completed by this evening and will be made public maybe as early as Monday."

Two military experts were flown in to perform the procedure he said, adding that they would be sensitive to Muslim traditions about dealing with the body.

"They are very familiar with this kind of thing," he said.

"One of them has the information and knows the customs and traditions of the religion."

Victims' relatives offended

A row has broken out in Jordan over whether Zarqawi's body should be returned to his home, the industrial city of Zarqa east of Amman.

Islamist members of parliament in Jordan promised to intervene after offering condolences to the family of Zarqawi, from the al-Khalayleh clan, some of whom view him as a martyr.

Woman mourns family member killed in roadside bombing
There were multiple casualties in two Baghdad bombings
The MPs were condemned by relatives of the 60 people killed in the Jordanian capital, Amman, last year in suicide bombings carried out by Zarqawi's group.

Correspondents say it is not clear if the US military will release the body of if the Jordanian government will allow its repatriation.

Zarqawi was still alive when Iraqi police got to the scene of the air strikes but he died shortly afterwards from his wounds, Gen Caldwell said earlier. US planes dropped two 500lb (230kg) bombs on his safe house near the city of Baquba on Wednesday.

After US troops arrived, Zarqawi tried to move off the stretcher where he had been placed, Gen Caldwell said.

"Everybody re-secured him back onto the stretcher, but he died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he had received from this air strike," he added.

US military officials had earlier said Zarqawi did not survive the strike, which they said came after tip-offs from his organisation.


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