Soldiers among dozens killed in Iraq

5 U.S.

At least 22 death squad victims found in Baghdad

September 15, 2006|By Solomon Moore | Solomon Moore,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Death squads continued to sweep through the Iraqi capital yesterday, leaving behind a grisly trail of at least 22 bodies, some of them handcuffed and decapitated. At least 19 people were killed in other violence throughout the country, including five U.S. soldiers whose deaths were reported yesterday.

A U.S. military spokesman acknowledged that despite a major operation to combat death squads and curb sectarian violence between Shiite militia fighters and Sunni Arab insurgents in Baghdad, violence has increased.

"There was a spike in violence that did occur in the city over the last 24 hours," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV said. "And a large portion of those, and the reports we received thus far, are from murder execution-style type activity."

On Wednesday, 60 bodies were found in Baghdad's streets.

Caldwell said security has been greatly increased in areas such as the troubled Dora district in southern Baghdad.

"If you go down to the Dora area, where they've focused the operations and continue to operate today, you can walk very freely through that area," Caldwell said.

But nearly half of the corpses found in Baghdad yesterday were dumped on Dora's outskirts. All of the victims had been handcuffed, bore marks of torture and had been shot point-blank, said Iraqi police Capt. Mohammed Hanoon.

In other violence, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck near an electrical substation on Baghdad's western outskirts, killing two U.S. soldiers.

Although the truck blew up outside thick concrete blast walls, the concussive force of the explosion and shrapnel injured 25 other soldiers, U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said.

It wasn't immediately clear why the soldiers were at the substation or whether the bombing had any effect on electrical power in Baghdad.

The military reported that two other U.S. soldiers were killed in the capital yesterday. One was shot in southeastern Baghdad, and another was killed by a roadside bomb.

A U.S. soldier in the northern city of Mosul was shot Wednesday and died after reaching a military hospital, the military said in a statement.

Also yesterday, a car bomb in southeastern Baghdad killed nine people, including two Iraqi policemen, and injured 29 other people.

Interior Ministry officials also reported that two worshippers were killed when gunmen attacked a mosque with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

In the northern city of Tall Afar, 70 miles west of Mosul, a man detonated a bomb vest near a checkpoint, killing one man and injuring three other people.

In Kirkuk, an oil hub in northern Iraq, gunmen assassinated Abdullah Khalaf Azzawi, a tribal sheik and local councilman, and his son while they were driving home.

The U.S. military announced a flurry of anti-insurgent activity in western Al Anbar province, used as a haven by many al-Qaida fighters in Iraq. Caldwell said U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed 66 suspected insurgents and arrested 830 this month.

Witnesses said U.S. Marines raided a funeral 20 miles west of the violent town of Ramadi, where Sunni Arab insurgents and U.S. troops have battled for months. After the burial ceremony, U.S. forces arrested at least 60 men at the gathering.

Caldwell also announced that U.S. and Iraqi troops had conducted 25 raids in and around Baghdad, capturing 70 suspected insurgents, including an associate of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Caldwell did not release the name of the suspected al-Qaida member.

Solomon Moore writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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