Vol. 4 Num 266 Wed. February 25, 2004  

Iraqis working for US forces killed in Mosul

Three Iraqis working as contractors for US troops were shot dead and two others seriously wounded by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul, local police chief Hikmat Mahmud Mohammad said yesterday.

"Two Iraqis working as translators and a third employed as a computer technician with the Americans were killed Monday around 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) in the Somar neighbourhood in southern Mosul," he told AFP.

"Two others also working with the Americans were seriously wounded as they were driving to work," General Mohammad said.

"The unidentified attackers, also riding in a car, opened fire with automatic weapons before fleeing," he added.

The city of Mosul has been the scene of several recent attacks against the Iraqi police, accused by insurgents of collaborating with the coalition forces.

Meanwhile, coalition forces in Iraq killed an aide of suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and arrested several other people in a raid last week, a US general told AFP yesterday.

"There was a terrorist stakeout of Zarqawi's at Al-Ramadi that we were able to raid and kill one of his operatives and arrest others," Major-General Charles Swannick said.

Swannick, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said items including suicide vests, bomb-making equipment and passports were seized in the raid on February 19.

He was confirming a report in the Baghdad daily newspaper that a Zarqawi deputy it named as Nidal Arabiyat Agha Hamza was killed in an operation conducted last Thursday north of Baghdad.

Large quantities of explosives and several detonators were found during the raid, the newspaper said, adding that Arabiyat was suspected of being responsible for a string of deadly attacks against Iraqi security forces.

"Arabiyat was hiding with other non-Iraqi al-Qaeda terrorists who were arrested by coalition forces," the paper said, adding that the detainees had confessed that Arabiyat had been active in Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden.