Iraq’s interior minister has said he can confirm Internet reports that the Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been wounded.
The comment from Bayan Jabor is the first concrete development after days of website claims and counter claims over the leader of the anti-American insurgency in Iraq.
This morning an apparently official announcement from al-Qaeda in Iraq said a deputy had been had appointed to replace Zarqawi.
The news appeared on an Islamist website but just a short while later another message – again purporting to come from the group – denied everything.
All this while western intelligence was still trying to verify the authenticity of Tuesday’s alleged statement from the group saying their leader had been injured.
Even if Zarqawi is out of action, violence continues across the country.
By mid-morning at least nine people had been killed in the capital Baghdad alone.
A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi police station in the northern Shula district as people headed to work – three policemen and two civilians died in that attack.
Another device, targeting a US military convoy, went off near the Shaab Stadium. And two policemen were shot dead in the southern Risala neighbourhood on their way to work.