Senior Al Qaeda commander killed in Iraq

March 6th, 2009 - 1:04 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, March 5 (DPA) Iraqi security forces Thursday said they had killed a top military commander in the Iraqi branch of the Al Qaeda network.
General Tariq al-Assil, police chief for Iraq’s western al-Anbar province, told DPA that his forces had killed Hamza Ubid Idris, also known as Abu al-Ansar, Wednesday night.

Al-Assil said that Idris was responsible for directing attacks in western Iraq by the Al Qaeda in Iraq organisation.

The general said that Iraqi security officers from the 8th Regiment of al-Anbar province’s Emergency Forces killed Idris after receiving intelligence that he was in the Wadi Huran district of al-Anbar, 200 km west of the provincial capital of Ramadi.

Al-Anbar is Iraq’s Sunni heartland. Once a stronghold of insurgents, it has been calmer in recent months since Sunni tribes joined the US-led forces in “Awakening Councils” to fight Iraqi offshoot of the Al Qaeda network.

Thursday evening’s announcement came after a pickup truck laden with explosives blew up in a crowded livestock market in the central Iraqi province of Babil, killing 10 people and injuring 60.

“There was a loud blast,” Abu Ahmad, 48, a local vendor, said. “Body parts were scattered all over the place.”

People gathered at the market in the Hamza al-Gharbi district of Babil, some 130 km south of Baghdad, rushed to help the wounded, witnesses and police said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces battled insurgents in the northern province of Nineveh as their campaign to calm the province, dubbed “Operation New Hope”, concluded its third week.

A woman and her child were injured by stray bullets in a firefight between insurgents and Iraqi policemen in Nineveh’s provincial capital of Mosul Thursday, police there told DPA.

In the Wadi Hajar district west of Mosul, a civilian man and a woman died after a roadside bomb targeting a passing police patrol exploded Thursday. Two Iraqi policemen were also wounded in that attack, a police official in Mosul told DPA, requesting anonymity.

The attacks followed a series of police raids into what a police official called “hot” neighborhoods on the west bank of Mosul. Fifty-six suspected insurgents were arrested in those raids and two abductees were freed, police said.

Though Iraqi and US forces have improved security in much of Mosul and Nineveh province, the old city of Mosul, with its maze-like warren of alleys, has remained a hotbed of Sunni insurgents in recent years.

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