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British Forces Kill Leading Terrorist

Al-Farouq and the three other escapees boasted about their breakout from Bagram on a video broadcast in October 2005 on Al-Arabiya television. They claimed to have plotted their escape on a Sunday when many Americans on the base were off duty. One of the four, Muhammad Hassan, said to be Libyan, said he picked the lock of their cell.

In the video, apparently filmed in Afghanistan, the men show fellow militants a map of the base and the location of their cell. Another shot in the video showed Hassan leading a prayer.

Some 250 British troops from the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment took part in the raid on al-Farouq's home Monday.

"We had information that a terrorist of considerable significance was hiding in Basra. As a result of that information we conducted an operation in an attempt to arrest him," Burbridge told the AP by telephone from southern Iraq. "During the attempted arrest Omar Farouq was killed, which is regrettable because we wanted to arrest him," Burbridge said.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, Iraqi politicians praised a deal Monday among the largest Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish groups that delays a possible division of Iraq until the constitution is amended.

But Iraq's second-largest Sunni group rejected the deal and promised to fight any effort to divide the country now or in the future.

Saleh al-Mutlaq's National Dialogue Front also accused Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab coalition of ignoring "the will of the people" by signing on to the deal and suggested it had betrayed the community for political gain.

Legislators formed a 27-member committee Monday to begin talking about amending the constitution. It will take about a year to review any changes and get them approved _ first by parliament and then by referendum.

The separate Shiite-sponsored federalism bill will be read to the legislature Tuesday and debated for two days. It could be voted into law as early as Oct. 5.

Although the deal allows Shiites to gain quick approval for their legislation, it makes them wait 18 months before it can become law. In the meantime, Sunni Arabs have a year to try to hammer out a deal to amend the constitution in an effort to dilute the federalism law.

Sunni Arabs fear that if the constitution is not amended, the legislation will splinter the country and deny them a share of Iraq's oil, which is found in the predominantly Kurdish north and the heavily Shiite south.

The deal was seen by many as a victory for Sunnis. But in many respects it was a pyrrhic victory _ any constitutional amendment must be approved in a referendum, which may not be supported by many Shiites or Kurds. Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq's population of about 26 million. Kurds are about 20 percent and Sunni Arabs 15-20 percent.

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Associated Press writers David Rising and Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.


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© 2006 The Associated Press