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BAGHDAD - An alleged Al-Qaeda militant suspected of bombing the office of President Jalal Talabani's party in northern Iraq has been arrested near the oil hub of Kirkuk, the US military said.

US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said the militant, an Iraqi Kurd, was arrested on August 19 and is a "bombmaker suspected of orchestrating some of the most horrific bomb attacks" in Iraq.

Caldwell said he is considered an "explosive expert producing suicide vests, improvised-explosive-devices and detonation devices and is known to have facilitated the movement of high level leaders of Al-Qaeda in Iraq."

He said the captured individual was also close to the Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who allegedly took charged of Al-Qaeda's Iraqi subsididary following the June 7 death of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

During the operation, five suspected "terrorists" were killed and another five detained, he told reporters.

"Intelligence does indicate that the captured terrorist was also involved in the bombing of a Kurdish political party headquarters in Mosul on August 15," Caldwell said, referring to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

On August 15 a truck bomber detonated his load of explosives near the PUK office and killed eight Kurdish peshmerga militiamen and wounded 51 others.

Caldwell said in a series of operations against the Al-Qaeda network in the month of August, US forces conducted "140 assaults, killed 17 individuals, wounded five and detained 300 suspects."

08/28/2006 13:23 GMT

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