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Islamist Leader Is Slain by Iraqi Kurds

Abdullah Qasri and four others are fatally shot at a checkpoint. They may have been mistaken for militants from another group. In tense northern Iraq, where Islamic guerrillas are targeting U.S. intelligence teams for kidnapping, Kurdish security forces killed five Muslim men Tuesday in a possible case of mistaken identity at a checkpoint near an airstrip being prepared for American troops. The shooting, which left a respected Muslim leader dead, occurred as Kurdish counter-terrorism units were shadowing militants in the group known as Ansar al-Islam. The radical Islamists, according to senior Kurdish officials, are running surveillance on heavily guarded U.S. intelligence teams working in the region as preparations continued for a possible American invasion of Iraq. The killings also highlighted the mistrust between Islamists and the secular Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, the Kurdish group that governs the eastern section of northern Iraq. The relationship between the two has been strained for years, but Ansar’s guerrilla war and a recent suicide bombing it carried out have made the PUK more vigilant in hunting suspicious Islamic forces. Full Story

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