Thursday, April 30, 2009

Iraq: First Shia Al-Qaeda cell 'uncovered'

Baghdad, 29 April (AKI) - Iraqi police claim for the first time to have uncovered an Al-Qaeda cell containing three Shia members, Iraq's interior ministry said, quoted by pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat. The ministry said the cell operated in the area around the city of Diwaniya, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, and carried out numerous attacks and targeted killings.

One of the cell's alleged Shia members was a police officer employed by the interior ministry, it said.

"The investigations began on 9 April, just days after the series of bombings in Baghdad," interior ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Raghif said.

"We received information that a policeman from al-Doura helped the terrorists drive through numerous police and Iraqi army checkpoints in Baghdad to carry out the car bombings."

The policeman was arrested and confessed to the crime, Raghif was quoted as saying.

Iraqi authorities believe the cell carried out a series of bombings in Baghdad on 6 April that killed 32 people.

Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday confirmed in a statement that Abu Omer al-Baghdadi, one of the most wanted Al-Qaida leaders, had been detained in custody.

The Iraqi government announced last week that its troops had captured a suspect who was believed to be al-Baghdadi and they were still carrying out their investigations.

Al-Baghdadi is believed to be the head of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq. The group is an Al-Qaeda-led umbrella organisation of extremist Sunni militant groups.



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