Gunmen kill 8 in attack on Iraqi firm

March 30, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gunmen dressed as Iraqi army commandos shot and killed eight employees of an electronics import company yesterday in an upscale neighborhood of Baghdad, the most recent attack in a wave of deadly strikes against businesses in the capital.

Interior Ministry officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said witnesses who survived the attack on the Ibtikar trading company provided the following account:

The attackers drove up in two Mercedes-Benzes and a third car about 11 a.m. and stormed the building, witnesses said. The gunmen gathered the employees in one room before shooting them with automatic rifles.

Three women and five men were killed. Another six workers at the facility, located in a large house, suffered wounds and were taken to Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad.

Yesterday's attack stood out among the many acts of violence here because it occurred in a modestly wealthy area of town - the Dawoody neighborhood, in which embassies and international missions are located. The neighborhood has been the site of kidnappings in the past, but not attacks on the scale of the one yesterday.

Officials said the attackers were wearing the familiar green camouflage uniforms of the Ministry of Interior Maghaweer, an elite fighting force that has taken the lead in a number of operations against insurgents in and around Baghdad.

The attack by uniformed gunmen underscored one of the major issues here - violence that appears to be linked to the Iraqi security services.

Since the bombing of the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra on Feb. 22, Iraq has been convulsed by a wave of attacks by Shiites and Sunnis against each other. The sectarian violence has brought the nation to the brink of civil war.

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