Thu, Mar 16, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Sectarian violence in Iraq intensifying

TIT FOR TAT Nearly 100 bodies have been found since an attack on a Shiite area of Baghdad on Sunday apparently spawned a fresh wave of revenge brutal killings

AP , BAGHDAD

Deepening sectarian violence in Iraq has produced at least 87 more victims -- men shot to death execution-style.

Twenty-nine of the bodies, dressed only in underwear, were dug out of a single grave in a Shiite neighborhood of east Baghdad.

The timing of the killings discovered on Tuesday linked the bloodshed to revenge killings for a bomb and mortar attack in a Baghdad Shiite slum that killed at least 58 and wounded more than 200 at nightfall Sunday.

Revenge was swift in some cases, and by early Monday police began uncovering the bodies, although the discoveries were not immediately reported. The gruesome finds continued through the day on Tuesday, police reported, marking the second wave of sectarian retribution killings since bombers destroyed an important Shiite shrine last month.

In the mayhem after the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was destroyed on Feb. 23, more than 500 people were reported killed, many, Sunni Muslims and their clerics. Dozens of mosques were damaged or destroyed.

Underlining the vast unease in the capital, Interior Ministry officials on Tuesday announced another driving ban, this one from 8pm yesterday to 4pm today to protect against car and suicide bombs while the Iraqi parliament meets for the first session since the Dec. 15 election.

After the driving ban was announced, the Cabinet announced that Thursday would be a holiday in the capital, presumably because residents would not be able to get to work.

The most gruesome find on Tuesday -- the 29 executed men dressed only in underwear -- was made after police discovered a 6m by 8m grave in an empty field in Kamaliyah, a mostly Shiite east Baghdad suburb, Interior Ministry official Lieutenant Colonel Falah al-Mohammedawi said. He estimated the victims were killed about three days ago, which would mean that they died before the Sadr City attack on Sunday evening.

An abandoned pickup truck containing 15 other bodies was found earlier on the main road between two mostly Sunni west Baghdad neighborhoods said al-Mohammedawi.

At least 40 more bodies were recovered elsewhere in Baghdad, in both Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, al-Mohammedawi said. Police reported finding three other corpses dumped in the northern city of Mosul.

Also on Tuesday, the US military reported the deaths of two soldiers in fighting in Anbar province. The statement said the soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. They were killed on Monday.

Meanwhile, scores of Shiite families have fled predominantly Sunni parts of Baghdad in recent weeks. More than 100 families arrived between Monday and Tuesday alone in Wasit province, in the southern Shiite heartland, said an official.

A roadside bomb exploded on Tuesday among Shiite pilgrims headed to the city of Karbala, killing one and injuring seven near Baqubah, police said.

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