Wed, Oct 11, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Baghdad death squads murder 60 men

SOCCER DRAGGED IN Police said international referee Hazim Hussein was kidnapped by unidentified men as he left the Iraq Federation of Football in the capital on Monday

AP , BAGHDAD

Authorities found the mutilated bodies of 60 men in Baghdad in the 24 hours to yesterday morning, the latest victims of the sectarian death squads that roam the capital.

The bullet-riddled bodies all had their hands and feet bound and showed signs of torture -- hallmarks of death-squad killings, police 1st Lieutenant Mohamed Khayon said.

The victims ranged in age from 20 to 50-years-old, he said. Their bodies had been dumped in several neighborhoods of the capital.

Sectarian death squads have killed thousands in recent months and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is coming under increased pressure to find an end to the violence.

Chief US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said Monday that there had been a spike in sectarian violence with the onset of Ramadan two weeks ago, though did not provide numbers.

"We anticipated it and we expect it to continue," Caldwell said. "The sectarian tensions in the city are high."

Yesterday, the body of the brother of a Baghdad police brigadier was found shot dead, tied to a lamppost in Buhriz, 60km north of the capital, Baqouba police said. Later authorities found the body of another of the brigadier's brothers, also shot, lying in the street.

The bodies of two other shooting victims were found in Khalis, 80km north of Baghdad, and another was found in Baqouba, police said.

In downtown Amarah, 320km southeast of Baghdad, a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party was gunned down by unidentified assailants, police Captain Hussein Karim said.

In the northern city of Mosul, a police colonel was killed in a drive-by shooting as he walked through the city, said police Colonel Abdel-Karim al-Jubouri. A civilian was also killed in the city in a second drive-by shooting, he said.

Meanwhile, authorities updated their casualty figures from the car bombing on Monday in Shaab, a mainly Shiite district of Baghdad, that came soon after the evening's iftar meal. Police Captain Ali al-Obeidi said an additional three people had died, bringing the casualty totals to 13 killed and 46 wounded.

In related news, an Iraqi international soccer referee was kidnapped as he left the Iraqi Federation of Football in Baghdad, police said yesterday.

Hazim Hussein had just left the Shaab Stadium in northeastern Baghdad, where the federation is headquartered, on Monday evening when he was taken by unidentified assailants, police Captain Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said.

Tariq Ahmed, head of the Iraqi Referee Association, told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the men had asked for a US$200,000 ransom for the 44-year-old.

Hussein had been scheduled to travel to Amman later this month to referee a game between Jordan and Qatar, Ahmed said.

Iraqi sports officials and athletes have frequently faced threats, kidnappings and assassination attempts. On Monday, gunmen killed a 37-year-old former national volleyball player, Naseer Shamil.

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