Iraq's interior minister has confirmed reports that Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded, but said he does not know if he is dead.
Bayan Jabor said today-Thursday he received the information five days ago and believes it is credible.
Zarqawi's militant group, al-Qaida in Iraq, said Tuesday that their leader had been wounded.
Meanwhile, conflicting statements about who is leading the group appeared on the Internet. An Islamist website said a new deputy Abu Hafs al-Qarni has been appointed until Zarqawi recovers, but al-Qaida in Iraq's main spokesman swiftly denied the claim.
In other developments, Iraq's defense minister Saadoun al-Duleimi said 40,000 Iraqi security personnel will launch an operation next week in and around Baghdad to stop insurgents.
To the west of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi troops swept the city of Haditha for a second day. At least 10 insurgents have been killed in that operation.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.