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Recording Purported to be Al-Qaida in Iraq Leader Surfaces on Web

An audio recording purported to be of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has been posted on the Internet, four days after reports he had been killed in a clash among members of his insurgent group.

The voice said to be that of Abu Ayyub al-Masri denied reported internal fighting among Sunni Arab militants.

In the statement, posted on a militant Web site, Masri criticized the Iraqi Islamic Party headed by Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi for working with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Iraq's Interior Ministry said Tuesday intelligence reports indicated Masri had been killed in fighting north of Baghdad. The U.S. military has not confirmed the report.

Masri, an Egyptian, assumed leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after the Jordanian militant was killed in a U.S. airstrike last June.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.