U.S. Military: Zarqawi Died from Bomb Blast
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lived for 52 minutes after a U.S. warplane bombed his hideout northeast of Baghdad, and he died of extensive internal injuries consistent with those caused by a bomb blast, the U.S. military said Monday.
Al-Zarqawi's group, al-Qaida in Iraq, announced in a Web statement Monday that a militant named Abu Hamza al-Muhajer was appointed its new leader.
Col. Steve Jones, command surgeon for Multinational Forces, said an autopsy concluded that al-Zarqawi died from serious injuries to his lungs in Wednesday's airstrike. An FBI test positively identified al-Zarqawi's remains.
Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, said U.S. forces arrived about 28 minutes after a fighter jet bombed al-Zarqawi's hideout outside Baqouba. Medics secured al-Zarqawi's airway but his breathing was shallow and labored, and he expelled blood from his mouth.
"It was very evident he had extremely massive internal injuries," Caldwell said.
Al-Zarqawi died 24 minutes after coalition forces arrived, he said.
Jones said the autopsy conducted Saturday showed that al-Zarqawi died from injuries to his lungs.
"Blast waves from the two bombs caused tearing, bruising of the lungs and bleeding," he said. "There was no evidence of firearm injuries."
The al-Qaida in Iraq leader also suffered head and facial wounds, bleeding in his ears and a fracture of his lower right leg.
Caldwell also said 140 military operations were carried out since al-Zarqawi's death and 32 insurgents were killed and 178 detained. He said 11 raids were directly connected to intelligence gleaned from al-Zarqawi's death.
"As far as the al-Qaida network, we are cautiously optimistic that we have been very successful thus far in the ongoing operations in last five days. We know this is not going to end the insurgency. It will take the people of Iraq to make that decision with their Iraqi security forces," Caldwell said.
He said an F-16 dropped a 500-pound bomb on al-Zarqawi's hideout at 6:12 p.m. Wednesday. A second bomb followed immediately after.
U.S. troops arrived at 6:40 p.m. and found Iraqi police at the site. He said a coalition medic treated al-Zarqawi, who lapsed in and out of consciousness.
"At 7:04 p.m. on 7 June, Zarqawi was dead," Caldwell said.
He said al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, Sheik Abdul-Rahman, was killed instantly in the airstrike.
Jones and a medical examiner who was not identified said al-Zarqawi had "no evidence of beating or any firearm injuries."
"These autopsies were performed to make a definitive determination as to the cause of both Zarqawi's and Rahman's deaths," Caldwell said. "The scientific facts provide irrefutable evidence regarding the deaths of terrorists will serve to counter speculation, misinformation and propaganda."
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