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Iraqi Official: Al-Qaida in Iraq's No. 2 Leader Arrested


Iraq's national security advisor says authorities have arrested the second most senior leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group.

Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said today Iraqi forces detained the group's second-in-command, Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, a few days ago while he has was hiding in a residential building. The Iraqi official did not give the location.

Al-Rubaie says Saeedi ordered the bombing of a sacred Shi'ite shrine in the Iraqi town of Samarra in February. The attack triggered deadly sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shi'ites that has killed thousands of people.

Al-Rubaie says the arrest of Saeedi provided intelligence that helped Iraqi forces kill or capture 11 other high-level al-Qaida figures and nine lower-level members.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says two American soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Baghdad Sunday.

In another development, Iraqi authorities have postponed a ceremony to transfer control of Iraq's military from U.S.-led coalition forces to the Iraqi government.

A U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson says the ceremony was called off Saturday because of disagreements about the future relationship between the coalition and the Iraqi military.

Once an agreement is reached, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, is expected to transfer control of Iraq's ground forces, air force and navy to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

Separately, the leader of Iraq's northern Kurdish region Massoud Barzani has ordered local authorities to remove the Iraqi flag from government offices and replace it with the Kurdish flag.

In response to the move, Prime Minister Maliki's office said today that only the Iraqi flag should be flown on government buildings in the country, until parliament makes a decision about it.

Iraq's Sunni Arabs have expressed fears that Kurds will try to break away from the country under its new federal system.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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