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Video shows Turkish hostage apparently beheaded

U.S. attacks associates of terrorism mastermind al-Zarqawi


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A group linked to al Qaeda released a video Monday apparently showing the beheading of a Turkish truck driver who was kidnapped last month in Iraq.

The video was posted on the Web site of the group Unification and Jihad, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi has claimed credit for several attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces, including the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 23 civilians August 2003 and the beheadings of South Korean translator Kim Sun-il and American businessman Nicholas Berg.

The claims of responsibility were included in an audiotape published on a Web site in April.

The video released Monday showed two men, apparently captives. One identified himself as Durmus Kumdereli, a truck driver from Tarsus, Turkey. The other man did not speak.

The video carried a digital marking with an August 17 date, but it was not certain when the footage was shot.

Kumdereli and truck driver Mustafa Koksal were reported kidnapped in Iraq on August 14 after delivering water to a U.S. military base. It was unclear if the second man shown in the video was Koksal.

After Kumdereli spoke, the video briefly goes black. It then showed him surrounded by masked men, who beheaded him. It was not clear what happened to the other man.

The Bush administration has said al-Zarqawi is an al Qaeda member who fled to Iraq from Afghanistan in May 2002 for medical treatment and then stayed to organize terror plots.

U.S. strikes Falluja

Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes attacked a building Monday in Falluja where associates of al-Zarqawi were meeting, the U.S. military said.

The strike followed clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents in the Sunni Muslim stronghold west of Baghdad.

A coalition statement described the attack as "a successful precision strike on a confirmed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist meeting."

U.S. Air Force F-16s dropped a pair of 500-pound, satellite-guided bombs, military officials said.

"Intelligence sources reported the presence of several key [al-Zarqawi] operatives who have been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces and multinational forces," the center said.

Twenty people were killed and 38 others wounded in the airstrikes and gunbattles, said Saad al-Amili of the Iraqi Ministry of Health. Five women and four children were among the wounded, he said.

One of the strikes hit an ambulance, killing four people, according to a CNN journalist in Falluja. A hospital official said the four had been wounded shortly before the U.S. attack but did not say how.

It was not clear how many of those killed or wounded were insurgents, al-Zarqawi associates or civilians.

The most intense fighting began in Falluja in April, after four U.S. security contractors were killed and their dismembered bodies suspended from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, former U.S. Marine commander of forces in western Iraq, said Sunday that he had opposed the method and timing of the U.S. response to those attacks.

Conway made his comments shortly after relinquishing his command at a ceremony at Marine headquarters outside Falluja. (Full story)

Violence across Iraq

Clashes across Iraq on Sunday left scores of people dead and hundreds wounded, according to Iraq's Ministry of Health.

Car bombs detonated in front of the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad and in the western part of the capital, U.S. military officials said. A suicide bomber was killed in the prison attack, and two Iraqi police officers died in the Baghdad bombing.

In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, battles flared sporadically throughout Sunday, an independent journalist told CNN. There were two differing casualty reports from the mostly Sunni Muslim city.

According to Iraq's Ministry of Health, clashes between U.S. Marines and insurgent fighters left at least three Iraqis dead and 26 others wounded.

But the director of a hospital said his facility received 10 dead and 40 wounded. The U.S. military said it was checking the reports.

On Baghdad's Haifa Street on Sunday, an hours-long firefight between insurgents and Iraqi security forces -- backed by U.S. military -- left 22 people dead and 61 others wounded, according to Ministry of Health officials.

Residents said most of the casualties in the gunfight occurred after a crowd --gathered around a burning U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle -- was fired on by a helicopter. The U.S. military said the crowd was made up of insurgents and looters.

When the Bradley crew was being evacuated, the U.S. forces came under small-arms fire and attack from grenades and Molotov cocktails, said Maj. Phil Smith, a U.S. military spokesman.

Smith said the helicopter fired on the vehicle to prevent it from falling into insurgents' hands. The Iraqis around it were "not innocent civilians," he added.

Several witnesses disputed the U.S. military's account, saying the crowd gathered around the burning vehicle, chanting "God is great," throwing stones at the vehicle and hitting it with metal pipes. The crowd was not firing toward the U.S. forces or looting the vehicle, the witnesses said.


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