The US army has released what it says are the first pictures of the dead body of Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed in a US air raid north of Baghdad on Wednesday evening. An army spokesman said Zarqawi was identified from his fingerprints, adding that a DNA test was underway. Five others were killed in the strike. Seventeen raids were launched on other suspected hideouts in and around Baghdad, producing what the US described as a “treasure trove” of information. It is reported Zarqawi was wounded but still alive when the Americans found him. The US military said they handed him over to the Iraqis and he later died of his injuries. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed Zarqawi’s death, saying Baghdad would continue “confronting whoever follows in his path”. He declared an “open war” against al Qaeda. The group has also confirmed the death of its leader, describing him as a martyr on a website. It has vowed to maintain its fight against the Baghdad government and what it branded the “US occupation”. Zarqawi was last seen in a video posted on an Islamist website in April, in which he denounced the new Shi’ite-led government. In his last audio tape released in June he could be heard calling on fellow Sunnis to reject any reconciliation with “infidel” Shi’ites.