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Iraq Transition

Al-Zarqawi successor reportedly named
Mourners take part Monday in funeral processions for nine Iraqis killed in Baquba, north of Baghdad.



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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Al Qaeda in Iraq has named a successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader killed in a U.S. airstrike last week north of Baghdad, Islamist Web sites said Monday.

The sites identified the militant group's new leader as Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, which means "the immigrant," indicating that he -- like the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi -- is not Iraqi.

CNN has not been able to confirm the claim's authenticity.

"The word of the Shura Council of the Qaeda organization in the land of the two rivers was united on electing Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajer to be the successor to the Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. God bless his soul on commanding the organization," one Web site said.

Al-Zarqawi died of blast injuries less than an hour after the U.S. strike Wednesday on a house near Baquba, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of the Iraqi capital, the U.S. military said Monday. (Full story)

He was positively identified through DNA testing, the military said. (Watch U.S. officials describe al-Zarqawi's death -- 2:49 )

Also in a Web posting, al Qaeda in Iraq on Sunday threatened "large-scale operations that will shake the enemy and rob them of sleep." Iraqi and U.S. officials, however, dismissed the threats as "empty" and "expected" in the wake of al-Zarqawi's death. (Full story)

More than 2 dozen killed

More than two dozen people died Monday in attacks across Iraq, officials said.

Six people died and 30 were wounded when two car bombs erupted in a crowded market in Balad, 43 miles (70 kilometers) north of Baghdad, officials said.

In eastern Baghdad's Sadr City, a car bomb exploded outside a busy market, killing at least four people and wounding 41 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

In the capital's upscale Mansour neighborhood, another car bomb detonated near a market, killing five people and wounding 15, the official said.

In southern Baghdad's Dora district, a roadside bomb destroyed a minibus carrying Oil Ministry workers, killing six of them and wounding 12 others, a Baghdad police official said.

Also in the capital, three people were killed and 10 others wounded when four mortar rounds landed in a residential area of the Abudchair neighborhood, said a Baghdad emergency police official.

In the northwestern city of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, a car bomb exploded at a fuel station, killing four people and wounding 42 others, Iraqi police said.

In other violence Monday, two teachers were seriously wounded when gunmen attacked their car in the Shiite neighborhood of Shulla on Baghdad's northwestern outskirts, Iraqi police said.

U.S.: Raid kills 7 terrorists

U.S.-led coalition forces killed seven terrorists, wounded three others and detained two people Monday during a raid in Baquba, the U.S. military said.

The military said the dead had "ties to senior al Qaeda leaders across Iraq" and were helping fighters from outside the country. The area was near where al-Zarqawi died.

The raid had unintended victims: two boys -- 6 months old and 4 years old, according to U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell.

Caldwell called the deaths "an extremely unfortunate situation."

An 8-year-old boy also was injured, but his wound wasn't life-threatening, Caldwell added.

Other developments

  • President Bush is discussing the situation in Iraq on Monday with members of his Cabinet and national security team, including Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. military official in Iraq, at Maryland's Camp David. (Full story)
  • Testimony in Saddam Hussein's trial came to a halt Monday when the chief judge ordered the half brother of the ousted Iraqi leader removed from the courtroom, prompting outbursts from defense attorneys. The lawyers accused guards of manhandling defendant Barzan Hassan, who was also Hussein's former intelligence chief. (Full story)
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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