BAGHDAD, May 9: Al Qaeda's offshoot in Iraq on Monday claimed a suicide car bombing that killed 24 policemen south of Baghdad last week and vowed revenge attacks in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

The group's statements on a jihadist Internet forum came shortly after Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Al Qaeda was “likely” to seek revenge for bin Laden's killing by striking Iraq.

“The Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the May 5th suicide bombing in the city of Hilla in Babil province of Iraq in a communique issued on jihadist forums on” Monday, US monitoring group SITE Intelligence said in a statement.

The Hilla attack, where a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car at a police station and killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others, came just three days after Al Qaeda founder Bin Laden was killed.

In its statement, Al Qaeda's Iraqi branch indicated that the Hilla bomb attack was carried out in revenge for bin Laden's death.

“So sleep soundly O Lion of Islam and Sheikh of the Mujahideen (holy warrior), for we are not of those who shed tears and sit idly by crying like women -- this was not and will not be our way,” it said according to an English-language translation by SITE.

In a statement on the Honein Islamist forum, Al Qaeda's “emir” in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi, described US President Barack Obama as “the rat in the black house”, and warned: “The world will be small for you, after the death of Osama bin Laden because you will live in fear and terror.”

“I tell our brothers in Al Qaeda, and especially Sheikh Mujahid Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leaders of Al Qaeda that in the Islamic State of Iraq, there are loyal men who stick to the truth. They will not quit, and we swear to God, blood for blood and destruction for destruction.”

On Saturday, Zebari said during a visit to Tunisia that Al Qaeda was “still present in Iraq and pursues its operations in the country, so its revenge after the assassination of bin Laden is likely.”—AFP

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