"The prime minister announces the killing of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of an organization known as al Qaeda in Mesopotamia," the television reported. The report said Zarqawi had been killed south of Baghdad.
Nuri al-Maliki announced Thursday that al-Zarqawi "has been eliminated." "What happened ... is the result of collaboration from people who facilitated the operation conducted by Iraqi police and multinational forces," Maliki told reporters.
"This is a message to those who chose the path of violence to change their direction before it is too late. I thank our forces,
our police and the multinational forces for what they are doing in pursuing the terrorists," the Iraqi prime minister said.
US news network ABC reported on Thursday that al-Zarqawi was killed in a joint attack by US helicopters and Iraqi forces. It said US helicopters hit a house near Baquba, 40 miles (65 km) north of Baghdad, at 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
"Zarqawi was apparently injured at first... The Americans
found him. They handed him over to the Iraqis and he later died of his injuries," ABC said.
It said seven people were hit in the helicopter attack,
including two women, but it was not clear how many were killed or wounded.
US forces confirm killing
General George W. Casey Jr, head of US-led forces in Iraq, told a press conference that Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheikh Abdel Rahman, were killed at 6:15 pm (1415 CET) Wednesday in an air strike on an isolated safe house.
"Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his
network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates, who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometers north of Baquba, when the air strike was launched."
"Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike, and
elements of Multinational Division North, arrived shortly
thereafter. Coalition Forces were able to identify al-Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars."
Casey said Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq "have conducted
terrorist activities against the Iraqi people for years in attempts to undermine the Iraqi national government and coalition efforts to rebuild and stabilize Iraq.
He said Zarqawi's death "is a significant blow to al Qaeda and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq.