Al-Qaeda Iraq "war minister" killed in raid

Islamic State of Iraq is Qaeda umbrella group

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One of al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq, identified as the militant group's "war minister", has been killed in a raid, a senior Iraqi official said on Friday.

Noman Salman, also know as Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, the war minister for the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), was killed on Thursday night in Hit, about 130 km (80 miles) west of Baghdad, a spokesman for the Baghdad operations command said.

"Based on intelligence, Iraqi security forces carried out the raid that killed him. U.S. forces were not involved in this operation," Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told Reuters.

Abu Suleiman, an Iraqi, was named war minister by ISI last May after the killing of two of the group's top leaders by Iraqi and U.S. security forces.

News of his death came as thousands of Iraqis took to the streets on Friday to protest corruption and lack of basic services amid fears of attacks by insurgents.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has advised people to stay away from Friday's protests and warned them of possible violence by al Qaeda and members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party.

ISI is believed by intelligence analysts to have been created by al Qaeda in Iraq as a local umbrella group for insurgent organizations.

Overall violence has dropped sharply in Iraq in the past years from the height of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07, but Sunni militants such as al Qaeda and other insurgents are still capable of staging lethal bombings.

Iraq's minority Sunnis feel they have been marginalized by the political ascent of the Shiite majority since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam.

At least 100,000 Iraqis have been killed in nearly eight years since the invasion.