Iraqi militant killed after jailbreak, police say

BAGHDAD Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:00pm IST

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Police tracked down and killed a suspected Iraqi militant on Saturday, the night after the man believed to have links to al Qaeda disappeared in a bold jailbreak in western Iraq, a senior police official said.

Police shot Imad Ahmed Farhan, described as a leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, a Sunni Islamist group linked to al Qaeda, after surrounding a house where he was holed up in the city of Ramadi, said Major-General Tareq Yusuf, police commander for western Anbar province.

Farhan, who was accused of killing 37 people, and two other suspected militants escaped from a police jail in Ramadi, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, in a dramatic riot overnight on Friday.

Prisoners lured a policeman into their cell, stealing his weapon and killing him. Six other police officers and seven prisoners were killed in the subsequent fighting.

Yusuf said the two other men who escaped with Farhan, were still at large.

"We are chasing them, we are following them, and we will soon arrest them, God willing," Yusuf said.

Yusuf said that Farhan had taken the family which lived in the home where he was killed hostage and fired at police from inside until he was shot dead himself.

A local resident who witnessed the events, however, said that the standoff continued even after Farhan was shot, suggesting the other militants may have been inside as well.

A lieutenant colonel in the Ramadi police, who asked to go unnamed, said that two accomplices surrendered after Farhan was shot, but they were not the two escaped prisoners.

He said one civilian in the area was killed and one was wounded during the standoff. Three police officers were wounded, he said.

Anbar, a vast desert region, was once Iraq's wild west and a hotbed of Sunni Islamist insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces. But the province has gradually become far quieter. Earlier this fall, Iraqi security forces assumed control for Anbar's security from U.S. Marines stationed there.

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