The rumours that the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi believed to be leading the insurgency in Iraq has been wounded still have not been confirmed. But speculation has now extended to the Ramadi Public Hospital – a medical centre frequently raided by US troops searching for rebels. Staff at the hospital stopped short of denying claims he had been treated there.
The latest allegations that Zarqawi had been injured came from a statement issued in the name of his group – ‘al Qaeda in Iraq’. He has claimed responsibility for numerous bombings in the country.
Elsewhere in Iraq, US troops have been sweeping through the town of Haditha, making a number of arrests following a recent surge in attacks. And there has been more trouble in Tall Afar. Iraqi police have been checking all vehicles in and out of the city amid reports that Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting in the streets and militants have seized control of some areas.
The unrest comes a day after two car bombs killed 20 people. Italian foreign minister, Gianfranco Fini has flown into Baghdad to meet his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari. At a joint press conference, Fini said any decision about withdrawing the 3,000 Italian soldiers currently in Iraq would be linked to the demands of the new Iraqi government and international forces.