An Iraqi army force killed a gunman described as a leading al-Qaeda figure in a security operation south of Tikrit last Thursday, (September 14th), Iraqi police in Salaheddine province announced.
The army force also arrested five other gunmen during the security operation.
Police spokesperson Hasan al-Majmaie told Mawtani, "A special army unit, assisted by police, raided a military industrial complex used by the former Iraqi army in the Tigris waterway area, where a number of al-Qaeda elements had gathered."
"After gunfire exchange for about an hour and a half, the Iraqi security forces called in a military helicopter for air support, bombing the site and killing a leading al-Qaeda member named Hashem Matar," al-Majmaie added.
"Five others were wounded and later arrested and taken to a special hospital under tight security," he said.
"The security forces found a large warehouse of weapons and explosives belonging to al-Qaeda and containing dozens of explosive charges of various sizes, ammunition for medium and light weapons, and rockets, which had been partly triggered off by the bombing," al-Majmaie said.
Brig. Gen. Raheem Hasan, commander of the Iraqi army eighth brigade, told Mawtani, "The operation required the participation of about 100 army soldiers and more than 50 policemen, in addition to a military helicopter because of the danger posed by the gunmen.
"The force also had information confirming the suspects were wearing explosive belts, which made the storming of the site extremely difficult," he added.
Hasan said the five detainees "represent a huge depot of information for the security forces, and we are waiting for a special team to start interrogating them to identify the many personalities and big names who are working for al-Qaeda."
Lt. Col. Sadoun al-Ajeely, director of the counter explosives unit in Salaheddine, said, "We were surprised by the huge quantities of explosives uncovered and the way they had been manufactured, because they contained toxic materials, and malicious shrapnel that could cut the human body to small pieces.
"It is as if they relished the torturing of people before killing them," he added.
Deputy Governor of Salaheddine, Mahmoud Abdullah, told Mawtani, "The local government in the province has decided to reward the security personnel who took part in the operation as a celebration of this achievement."
“It came at a time when the people were in need of relief and restored confidence in the security forces in the wake of the heinous terrorist attacks that struck the country in the past two weeks," he added.