WORLD / Middle East

Iraq hails killing of Zarqawi as start of new era
Updated: 2006-06-09 18:59

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a "new beginning" for Iraq, the interior minister said on Friday, but authorities imposed a traffic ban in an apparent effort to prevent al Qaeda reprisal attacks.

The ban in Baghdad and in the town of Baquba, near where U.S. planes killed the most wanted man in Iraq on Wednesday, will last from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., when Iraqis go to mosques for Friday prayers, the Interior Ministry said.

Suicide car bombers launched by Zarqawi have attacked Shi'ite mosques in the past as part of a campaign to plunge Iraq into sectarian civil war. The traffic ban suggested authorities feared more such attacks on Friday.

In Afghanistan, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar vowed that the killing of Zarqawi would not weaken Muslim efforts against "crusader forces," a Pakistani report said.

In a strike that President George W. Bush said could help to turn the tide against the insurgency, two U.S. 500-pound (227 kg) bombs killed Zarqawi in a rural area near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told Iraqiya state television:

"Killing Zarqawi is a new beginning for Iraqi security and establishing peace between the different components of society."
Page: 12