Iraq claims capture of 90 suspects

Iraqi security forces have arrested 90 suspected fighters and say they are closing in on the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Officials have claimed several major arrests in recent weeks

    More than 90 suspected fighters were arrested on Monday after security forces raided their stronghold south of the capital Baghdad.

    The US military said in a statement on Monday that Iraqi forces, backed by US troops, had captured more than 90 suspects after storming their stronghold in Salman Pak on the edge of Baghdad.

    "Iraqi security forces discovered a large terrorist base March 28 in Salman Pak, south of Baghdad ... . Several weapons, munitions and two IEDs were found on the scene. More than 90 suspected terrorists were captured and are being questioned," read the statement.

    It added that the troops had experienced "light resistance" before storming the base.

    Al-Zarqawi cornered?

    In a related development, the Iraqi interior minister said on Monday Iraqi security forces are tightening the net around Iraq's most-wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is said to
    be behind many of Iraq killings

    "He [al-Zarqawi] is surrounded in a certain area, and we hope for the best. This operation is ongoing. We hope that the situation will be completely different in Iraq at the end of this year," Falah al-Naqib told a news conference.

    The outgoing minister said al-Zarqawi was moving in "more than one area".

    He refused to give details, but predicted that the hunt was nearing its end.

    Al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, has eluded arrest while kidnapping and killing people in Iraq.

    On Sunday, fighters posted a video on the internet showing the purported execution of a man identifying himself as Interior Ministry official Colonel Riyad Gati Ulaway.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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