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Iraqi Official Says Second-in-Command of Al-Qaida in Iraq Arrested


Iraq's national security advisor has announced the arrest of the second-in-command of the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group.

Mouwaffak al-Rubaie says Iraqi forces captured Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi a few days ago near the city of Baquba.

Saeedi is accused of ordering the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra. The attack inflamed violence between Iraq's Shi'ites and Sunnis.

Al-Rubaie says Iraqi forces killed or captured 20 other al-Qaida members following Saeedi's arrest.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih said on CNN's "Late Edition" program the capture dealt a "severe blow" to the terrorist group, but he said it remains a serious threat.

Also Sunday, Iraq's prime minister and the president of Iraqi Kurdistan traded criticism over a ban on flying the Iraqi flag in the autonomous northern region.

Kurdistan regional president Massoud Barzani defended his order to remove the Iraqi flag from government offices and fly only the Kurdish flag.

Prime Minister Maliki's office said only the Iraqi flag should be flown on government buildings throughout the country, until parliament makes a decision about it.

Iraq's Sunni Arabs have expressed fears that Kurds will try to break away from the country under its new federal system.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced the deaths of two Marines in al Anbar province in recent days and said a roadside blast killed two American soldiers in Baghdad Sunday.

In another development, the French news agency reports that one of its Iraqi stringers Bilal Abdelrahman al-Obeidi was kidnapped August 14th.
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