Iraqi troops on Thursday killed three men in a shoot-out near the main highway to Baghdad airport, while north of the capital police found the corpses of 14 al-Qaeda kidnap victims, officials said.
Soldiers came under fire at a security checkpoint in Yarmouk district at around 8pm, a spokesman for Baghdad security forces said, prompting clashes that left three attackers dead. No troops were wounded.
The incident occurred next to “Route Irish,” the 12km road that became notorious for gun and rocket attacks on passing vehicles after the 2003 US-led invasion, but which is now much safer.
North of the capital, meanwhile, an Iraqi police colonel said the bodies of nine firefighters — seized two years ago and shot in the head or body — and five civilians, all of whom were kidnapped by al-Qaeda, had been found.
The firefighters were discovered in a well in Shnana, 12km west of Samarra in Salaheddin Province, a former insurgent stronghold, the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The five dead civilians were recovered in a desert area near Samarra, the colonel said, adding that all 14 bodies were found as a result of information obtained from insurgent detainees.
Imad al-Juburi, a doctor at Tikrit General Hospital, confirmed that 14 male bodies had been brought in, all of them heavily decomposed.
Samarra is a Sunni town but is home to the Shiite Imam Ali Hadi shrine also known as al-Askri shrine.
Alleged al-Qaeda militants bombed the shrine on Feb. 22, 2006, an action that triggered nationwide Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict in which tens of thousands of people were killed.
In Mosul in the north, meanwhile, a man was shot dead on Thursday by unknown gunmen while driving his car in Zinjili district in the city center, police said.
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