Al-Qa'ida's shrine bomber is killed by US soldiers
US troops killed the al-Qa'ida mastermind of the bombing that destroyed the golden dome of a famed sacred Shia shrine last year and set in motion an unrelenting cycle of sectarian bloodletting, the military said yesterday.
Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, the group's Salahuddin province emir, was killed in a US operation east of Samarra on Thursday. He was responsible for the June 13 bombing that toppled the Askariya shrine's twin minarets, the military said.
Rear Admiral Mark Fox, a US military spokesman, said al-Badri had been among insurgents spotted by US aircraft moving into "tactical fighting positions".
"Al-Badri's body was positively identified by close family members," Fox said.
Another 80 suspected insurgents were detained in US and Iraqi raids in the Samarra area over the past week, the US military said. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police took part in the giant operation, backed by US paratroopers. Thirteen people were killed yesterday and 14 wounded by mortar shells in south-east Baghdad.Meanwhile, US forces have deployed robots equipped with automatic weapons in Iraq, the first battlefield use of machines capable of waging war by remote control.
The 3rd Infantry Division, based south of Baghdad, purchased three Talon Sword robots for operations in Iraq.
Sword robots are a modified version of track-wheeled bomb disposal devices. Soldiers operate the robots with a modified laptop, complete with a "kill button" that stops it if it goes awry. Armed with M240 machine guns, the robots are likely to be used in raids on suspected enemy compounds. (©Daily Telegraph, London)