Tape of 'dead' al-Qaida leader online

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An audio recording purporting to be from al-Qaida's leader in Iraq has been posted online, four days after he was reportedly killed.

Iraq's government said that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, had been killed in factional infighting last week yet the US refused to confirm the reports.

However a militant website has posted what is said to be an audio recording of the Egyptian-born al-Qaida leader although there has been no confirmation that the tape is genuine or any knowledge of when it may have been recorded.

"What you hear in the news on satellite channels about fighting between us and jihadist groups or with our blessed tribes is just lies and fabrication," the voice says in its attack upon the media.

"It is a desperate attempt to divide the jihadist ranks."

In the 21-minute long recording, the alleged voice of al-Masri also rejects the report that al-Qaida wishes to harm those affiliated with Sunni Muslim groups, many of which reject his hardline Salafist portrayal of Islam.

"We would not like you to shed our blood, and we do not like to shed one drop of your blood ... just leave us with the enemy, we do not want anything from you," the voice warned.

Al-Masri is one of the Pentagon's most wanted men with a current bounty on his head of $5 million (£2.5 million).

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