Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Sunday, 25 April 2010 11:20 UK

Al-Qaeda confirms leaders' deaths in Iraq

US military photo allegedly showing Abu Ayyub al-Masri/Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (June 2006)
Abu Ayyub al-Masri was reportedly at a meeting when he died in an airstrike

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has confirmed that two of its top leaders were killed in a joint operation by Iraqi and US forces a week ago.

A statement posted on Islamist websites said Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were attending a meeting when they were killed in an airstrike.

It said confirmation of their deaths was likely to be exploited by the US and Iraq's Shia-led government.

Since the deaths, 58 people have died in a wave of apparent revenge bombings.

The attacks hit the capital Baghdad and the western province of Anbar.

'Two heroes'

The al-Qaeda confirmation came in a statement posted late on Saturday on jihadist internet forums, The SITE Intelligence Group service said.

Abu al-Walid Abd al-Wahhab al-Mashadani, sharia minister for the Islamic State of Iraq - al-Qaeda's branch in the country - said the two leaders were attending a meeting near Tikrit last Sunday when "enemy forces" engaged them in battle and launched an airstrike on their location.


The wave of bombings wreaked widespread destruction

"We are proud to announce to you... that the Islamic Ummah once again lost two leaders... two heroes who were determined to follow the path of jihad, despite the severe adversity and the intensity of their burdens, as well as the aggressiveness of their enemies," he said.

Most of the revenge attacks occurred near Shia mosques during Friday prayers. At least two went off near the offices of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Al-Qaeda is blamed for many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq in recent years.

There were at least six bombings in Baghdad on Friday, with some reports putting the total at 13.

Seven people also died on Friday in a series of bombings in the western province of Anbar.

The attacks reportedly targeted the homes of police officers and a judge in the town of Khalidya.

Anbar province is more peaceful now than it was a few years ago, when it was at the centre of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

But relatively small-scale bombings of this kind are still common and often blamed on - but rarely claimed by - al-Qaeda or its affiliates.

Print Sponsor

AFP via Yahoo! Qaeda in Iraq confirms top commanders killed - 38 hrs ago
ABC News Qaeda Confirms Deaths of Leaders in Iraq: Statement - 42 hrs ago Al-Qaida confirms leaders' deaths in Iraq - 43 hrs ago
France24 Al-Qaeda in Iraq confirms deaths of top two commanders - 47 hrs ago
MSNBC Al-Qaida in Iraq confirms deaths of leaders - 52 hrs ago

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific