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State Dept. Convoy Attacked in Baghdad, Sparking a Shootout
Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers announced the capture of a man they believe was responsible for killing Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the leader of a Sunni tribal movement in western Iraq and a close U.S. ally.
During a raid of three buildings west of Balad on Saturday, U.S. soldiers captured Fallah Khalifa Hiyas Fayyas al-Jumayli, also known as Abu Khamis, described in a military statement as "closely allied with senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders in the region."
The death of Abu Risha was a blow to U.S. efforts in Anbar province. The charismatic tribal leader, who helped form the Anbar Salvation Council last year, had risen to prominence because of his public partnership with U.S. troops and his commitment to forcing al-Qaeda in Iraq out of Anbar. He was killed Thursday when a bomb exploded outside his house in Ramadi, the provincial capital. A week earlier, he had met with President Bush and expressed his continued support for U.S. efforts in Iraq.
The U.S. military statement said Jumayli was plotting to kill other tribal leaders and allies of Abu Risha's in Anbar province. "He is also reportedly responsible for car bomb and suicide vest attacks in Anbar Province," the statement said.
U.S. soldiers continue to pursue other suspects in the bombing, said Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a U.S. military spokesman.
"We do not think the murderer acted alone," Fox told reporters in Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi leaders hailed the Anbar Salvation Council for reducing violence in what had been some of the deadliest terrain in the country. The enlistment of Sunnis to fight alongside American soldiers against al-Qaeda in Iraq has spread to several other predominantly Sunni areas of the country. Sunni and Shiite political leaders praised Abu Risha as a pioneer in those efforts in the face of great personal risk and said they did not expect the movement to diminish in the wake of his killing.
"The Sunni society was under the domination of al-Qaeda, and they were refusing even to condemn them," said Humam Hamoudi, a senior leader in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the dominant Shiite political party. "And Sunnis now are fighting al-Qaeda as the Shiites were trying to fight al-Qaeda, so the Iraqi people are united against one enemy."
Staff writer Megan Greenwell, special correspondent Naseer Nouri and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.