Top Iraqi policeman killed in suicide bombing


Qatar: A suicide bomber linked to al-Qaeda assassinated the top anti-corruption police officer in the northern city of Mosul yesterday, and US troops said they killed 24 insurgents in a battle on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The suicide bomber, wearing an explosive vest, walked into the offices of the Mosul police anti-corruption department and blew himself up, killing department head Brigadier Walid Kashmoula, the US military said. Another Iraqi was wounded.

Al-Qaeda's wing in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said it had killed "the apostate Walid Kashmoula who is the top American agent" in the area.

"This will be the fate of those who stand by the polytheists," al- Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq said in a statement posted on an Islamist website.

During Brig Kashmoula's funeral yesterday, gunmen fired on the procession following his coffin, killing two people and wounding at least 14 others, police said.

The US says Zarqawi is its main enemy in Iraq, and is offering $25 million for information leading to his death or capture. Iraqi ministers say the net is closing on Zarqawi, but his organisation insists it is winning the battle to topple the US-backed government and drive foreign troops out of Iraq.

Meanwhile, Jordan's state security court sentenced Zarqawi in absentia yesterday to 15 years in jail for plotting to attack the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. Alleged accomplice Miqdad al-Dabbas, captured by the US military in February 2004, was sentenced to three years.

A British theatre director was named last night as the victim of a suicide car bombing in Qatar which officials believe is the first attack on western interests by the al-Qaeda terrorist network in the tiny Gulf state.

Jon Adams, who was directing a production of Twelfth Night at the Doha Players Theatre, was killed when the car bomber detonated a device shortly before the end of the production on Saturday night.

He had apparently left the auditorium to investigate a commotion outside just before the explosion wrecked the theatre's cafe and dozens of nearby cars.

Eric Mattey, a spokesman for the British embassy in Doha, said: "It was chaotic. One of the buildings was completely flattened. It took the fire brigade a while to put the fire out and there was pandemonium in the area." Twelve people in the audience of around 100 were injured. Ten were later released from hospital.

Qatar's interior ministry said an Egyptian who owned the car, Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, carried out the attack. No group has claimed responsibility, but government officials are convinced it was linked to al-Qaeda. - (Reuters, Guardian Service)