Al-Zarqawi autopsy completed

US military doctors have completed an autopsy on the body of Abu Musab al-Al-Zarqawi, the slain al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, while Iraqi officials have pledged to launch new attacks on the his hideouts.

    Circumstances of al-Zarqawi's death are being questioned

    US military spokesman Major William Wilhoite confirmed on Sunday that the autopsy was complete and the military was now "awaiting the findings" of the medical examination conducted by two doctors flown in from outside Iraq.

    On Saturday, multinational forces spokesman Major-General William Caldwell said the autopsy was being done to see "how he actually died."

    The move followed repeated queries about the circumstances of al-Zarqawi's death, especially after it was revealed he was alive when Iraqi and US forces appeared at the scene of the air strike that eventually killed him.

    On Wednesday, an F-16 launched two 227kg bombs, one laser-guided and one GPS-guided, at al-Zarqawi's safe house northeast of Baghdad near the city of Baquba.

    Caldwell clarified on Saturday that there were no bullet wounds on al-Zarqawi's body.

    His body is being kept in Baghdad under a 24-hour guard.

    Test results

    The US military was also awaiting the results on DNA tests on al-Zarqawi.

    After the strike al-Zarqawi was identified through facial recognition, known scars on his body and fingerprints, while samples of his DNA were flown to Washington for further analysis.

    The safe  house of al-Zarqaqi was
    destroyed in an air assault

    Upbeat from the killing of al-Zarqawi, US and Iraqi security forces were conducting a series of operations to track down the insurgent leader's aides since his death.

    Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim, the Iraqi defence minister, pledged to launch attacks on fighters' hideouts in Iraq.

    "In the coming days Iraqi and other security forces will launch multiple activities to chase terrorists and attack their cells and hideouts," Jassim said in a statement.

    "This is part of a security plan that will be carried out soon."


    Meanwhile, a police official from the northern oil hub of Kirkuk has confirmed the arrest of seven members of the Mujahideen Shura council, a group of organisations led by al-Qaeda.

    The seven men had reportedly fled from Baquba after the killing of al-Zarqawi.

    Captain Shakhwan Mahmud of the police said a joint US-Iraqi air assault surrounded a house in Kirkuk and arrested seven members of the council led by al-Qaeda in Iraq.

    On Friday Abbas al-Mufraji, described as an aide to al-Zarqawi, was also arrested in security sweeps south of Baquba, an officer in the Iraqi army said.

    Twenty-three other suspected followers of the al-Qaeda leader were also picked up in sweeps throughout the villages south of Baquba.

    Caldwell said Al-Zarqawi's death on Wednesday led to a number of operations against his men.

    "There were certain personnel that we have been watching and monitoring that coalition forces had made the decision not to take down, because they had given key indicators at different points of time where al-Zarqawi might be - so they were monitored, watched and tracked.

    "When Al-Zarqawi went down, that enabled us to go in and conduct those operations."

    US reassessment

    Meanwhile, boosted by the killing of al-Zarqawi, George W Bush, the US president, opens on Monday a two-day summit on a reassessment of US efforts in Iraq.

    The talks will link his aides at Camp David to the new government in Baghdad, a Bush adviser said in Washington.

    On Sunday, violence continued in Iraq, with at least three people killed.

    Major-General Ali Hussein of the Baghdad police was seriously injured and his driver killed when a bomb went off next to his vehicle in an early morning attack in central Baghdad.

    In the oil hub of Kirkuk, north of the capital, a teacher was shot dead by armed men as he left his house while another civilian was killed when a bomb exploded near his car on the road south of the city.



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