Killings escalate in Baghdad region

October 17, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Waves of killing engulfed the capital and surrounding areas yesterday as bombings, shootings and sectarian executions left more than 100 Iraqis dead.

The death toll, high even by Baghdad standards, included 20 killed by two synchronized car bombs in east Baghdad, and 64 men whose mutilated bodies were found on roadsides, empty lots and drainage ditches in and around the capital.

The U.S. military also reported yesterday that seven U.S. military personnel had died in combat Sunday, boosting to at least 58 the number of troops killed during the first 15 days of the month - a rate higher than any time since January 2005, when U.S. forces battled insurgents before the country's elections.

The violence came on the heels of a harrowing campaign of vengeance executions that left 80 Sunni Arabs dead this weekend near Balad, a mostly Shiite enclave amid Sunni villages about 50 miles north of the capital.

Shiite gunmen allegedly tied to militias hunted down and shot dead Sunni Arab men in the city, avenging the slaying and beheading of a group of Shiite farmers on Friday.

Some of the bodies continued to lie unclaimed on the streets of Balad. Overnight, mortar rounds struck the town, killing five, and Shiite militiamen retaliated by attacking Sunni districts, officials and residents said.

U.S. soldiers continued a lockdown on the area, arresting police officers from a Sunni village near Balad.

The car bombs in east Baghdad's Ur district exploded near a funeral tent and a market crowded with shoppers stocking up for Iftar, the breaking of the dawn-to-dusk fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In addition to the 20 killed, 17 were injured in the attack.

Another car bomb near a bank in Baghdad killed 10 Iraqis and injured 45, officials said.

The U.S. casualties Sunday included one soldier killed in Baghdad on Sunday night when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Earlier, two U.S. soldiers attached to the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division were killed and two others wounded in fighting near Kirkuk. Two soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division were killed in combat in Salahaddin province, while two Marines were also killed in combat earlier in western Iraq.

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