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Iraq Transition

Iraqi police report arrest in mosque bombing

2003 attack killed Shiite cleric, dozens of others

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi police said Monday they have arrested the man responsible for a 2003 bombing in southern Iraq that killed a leading Shiite cleric and more than 80 others.

Najaf Police Chief Ghalib al-Jazairi said his officers arrested Ramzi Hashim, a Mosul resident, in connection with the August 2003 bombing at the Imam Ali Mosque -- a holy site of Shiite Islam.

Al-Jazairi said Hashim was found in a Najaf hotel and was planning another major attack in the city, located about 100 miles (160 km) south of Baghdad. No further details of the arrest were released.

The car bomb outside the mosque killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The party is now a major element of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite-dominated slate that won a majority of seats in a transitional parliament in January's elections.

Another 83 people died in the bombing in what was then the deadliest single strike of the insurgency -- a record that stood until a February attack on police recruits in Hilla that killed more than 100.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces captured four men, two of them associated with Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, the Iraqi interim government said Monday.

Using information from residents, Iraqi forces captured Abdulla Maher Abdulrasheed, Marwan Taher Abdulrasheed and two others in Saddam's ancestral homeland of Tikrit on February 8, a statement said. Tikrit is 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

Taher was once a bodyguard for Saddam and had become an insurgent, the statement said.

Officials suspect Abdulrasheed, a brother-in-law of Qusay, helped finance the insurgency.

Qusay and his brother, Uday, died in a July 2003 shootout with U.S. forces in Mosul.

Other developments

  • Two Iraqi civilians died after being wounded in crossfire involving a U.S. helicopter in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. military said. The helicopter came under small-arms fire and retaliated Sunday, the military said. At least five Iraqi civilians were wounded and taken to a hospital, where two died.
  • A Christian cameraman working for a Kurdish satellite television station in northern Iraq was found shot to death Monday in Mosul, an official with the channel said. Unknown gunmen kidnapped Hussam Hilal Sarsam, 26, a day earlier near his home, according to Kurdistan TV, which the Kurdistan Democratic Party owns.
  • A U.S. Army colonel has started an investigation into possible mistreatment of civilian detainees by six members of a U.S. Army unit under his command, according to a statement Saturday from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. "The soldiers are under investigation after it was discovered that two Iraqi civilians received minor injuries while being transported to a detention facility during an operation on February 27. The civilian detainees received immediate medical treatment," the statement said. Col. Augustus L. Collins initiated the probe after a preliminary inquiry.
  • A roadside bomb south of the capital killed two Americans working for a company that provides security for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the embassy said Sunday. The pair and a third American contractor who was wounded were attacked while riding in a car Saturday between Baghdad and Hilla, embassy spokesman Robert Callahan said. Blackwater Security employed the contractors, Callahan said.

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