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Claim for attack on Iraq's prime minister


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi purportedly claims responsibility for last week's missile attack against Iraq's interim prime minister, according to a statement posted on several Islamic Web sites Wednesday.

The statement, dated July 8, noted that Ayad Allawi, managed to survive the attack, but warned that "the bag is full" -- meaning more missiles may be used against the prime minister.

"If one of the arrows lost its way, more are coming toward you and targeting your heart," said the statement, which calls Allawi "Iraq's traitor."

Five people were wounded July 7 in a mortar attack directed at Allawi's compound. He was not present when the mortars landed near his home and office.

The posted statement is signed by al-Zarqawi, and describes him as the emir of the Unification and Jihad group, but it has never been proved definitively that Zarqawi is connected to the group.

The group has claimed responsibility for the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg.

Another statement from the group posted on several Web sites claimed responsibility for attacks against U.S. troops in Ramadi.

Dated Tuesday, it said fighters in the group's military section attacked two U.S. military bases -- one at the entrance of the city and another at a new base -- using Katyusha rockets.

It said that after the initial attacks, when assistance was coming to aid the U.S. troops, "your brave brothers were waiting for them" and blew up a car full of explosives to block the way.

Bombing suspect captured

Meanwhile, a Libyan with suspected ties to al Qaeda has confessed to roles in bombings, including a 2003 attack that killed a prominent Shia leader, officials said Wednesday.

Haidar Waw Shnawa was captured by Iraqi police during raids in the southern city of Najaf Tuesday, said Brig. Gen. Ghalib al-Jazairi, the head of Najaf police.

"This person was the person responsible for the attack and the sabotage in Karbala during Ashura," al-Jazairi said.

A series of bombings in Karbala when thousands of Shia Muslims jammed the streets to celebrate the Ashura holy day in March killed about 100 people and wounded about 200 others.

Shnawa also confessed to a role in the deadly August 2003 bombing in which a car exploded outside a mosque in Najaf, al-Jazairi said.

Ayatollah Sayid Muhammed Baqir al-Hakim, the foremost Shia Muslim in Iraq at the time, and about 100 other worshippers were killed.

Asked what terrorist organization Shnawa worked for, al-Jazairi answered, "al Qaeda."

Some 80 Iranians also were detained in the Najaf raids, according to an Iraq Interior Ministry official. They were being held for entering Iraq illegally, and authorities were checking into their backgrounds further, this official said.

'We lost a big man'

A provincial Iraqi governor who had fought for democracy in the post-Saddam Hussein era was killed in an ambush Wednesday, officials said.

Usama Kashmoula, governor of the ethnically and religiously diverse Ninevah province in northern Iraq, was shot on a road near the restive Sunni triangle.

"We lost a big man. The people will hate the terrorists more than before," said Ninevah Vice Governor Khisro Goran. "We're very sad, but the attacks will never stop us."

Hazem al-Galawi, chief of the governor's office in the city of Mosul, said he believes the strike was a targeted assassination and that Kashmoula was one of the highest-ranking Iraqi officials to be killed in such an attack. He said a "group of masked men" shot at the governor's convoy.

In Mosul, U.S. Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of Task Force Olympia, which had worked with Kashmoula, described him as the insurgents' "worst enemy."

"Governor Kashmoula has been the symbol of progress in Ninevah. He's a sign of freedom, liberty and democracy," Ham said in a written statement.

Green Zone attack

In central Baghdad, a suicide car bomber struck near the Green Zone, killing 10 Iraqis, officials said Wednesday.

A U.S. military official and Allawi said the dead included seven civilians and three National Guard members. At least 40 Iraqi civilians and a U.S. soldier were wounded.

Allawi suggested the bombing was in response to the recent arrest of "prominent criminals."

The bomb exploded about a quarter mile from a Green Zone entrance, a senior official with the U.S.-led multinational forces said.

The heavily guarded area houses the interim Iraqi government and the headquarters for the multinational forces. Visitors enter the restricted area through a checkpoint.

The attack happened on a national holiday that commemorates Iraq's overthrow of the British-backed monarchy on July 14, 1958.

Police: Bulgarians still alive

The Bulgarian hostage who was reported to be executed may be alive after all.

Bulgarian government spokesman Dimitri Tsonev said Wednesday the only evidence that a Bulgarian hostage was executed is a report on an Arabic-language TV network.

Gen. Mohammed Khairi Barhawi, the police chief of Mosul, said the two hostages, both truckers, are still alive. He said sources confirmed the hostages are in Mosul province.

Al-Jazeera reported Tuesday that it had received two videotapes, one showing the execution of the Bulgarian hostage.

The broadcast outlet said the Unification and Jihad group claimed responsibility for the hostages. The network aired part of the videotape, showing a man in an orange shirt kneeling in front of three masked men dressed in black. It did not broadcast the alleged execution.

Al-Jazeera said the group also said it would execute the other Bulgarian hostage in 24 hours if female prisoners in Iraq are not released by then. (Full story)

Al-Jazeera also broadcast a videotape showing Egyptian hostage Mohammed al-Gharabawi appealing to other truck drivers in Saudi Arabia -- where he worked -- to not go to Iraq.

On the tape, the captors said they would kill al-Gharabawi if his Saudi employer did not leave Iraq within 72 hours.

In Baghdad, Karima Sharaf, head of the Egyptian delegation, demanded the release of al-Gharabawi. Sharaf said Islam does not sanction taking hostages.

Other developments

  • A British government investigation into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war was "seriously flawed." The report also said there was no evidence of deliberate distortion or culpable negligence by Prime Minister Tony Blair or the British government. (Full story)
  • The Philippines has begun pulling its troops out of Iraq, a move seemingly being made to satisfy demands by kidnappers of a Filipino hostage. (Full story)
  • U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, who said he was abducted from his base in Iraq in June and who resurfaced in Lebanon last week, is scheduled to return to the United States from Germany on Thursday (Full story)
  • Two U.S. soldiers assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team were killed and two others were injured Wednesday in an accident near Tall Afar in northern Iraq, the Coalition Press Information Center said. The total of U.S. troops killed in Iraq is 893.
  • CNNArabic.com Editor Caroline Faraj and CNN's Jane Arraf, Jamie McIntyre and Maria Ressa contributed to this report.


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