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'1,300 dead' in Iraq sectarian violence
by UK Guardian (reposted)
Tuesday Feb 28th, 2006 7:48 AM
As many as 1,300 people could have died in the wave of sectarian violence that swept Iraq following the bombing of a gold-domed shrine in Samarra, it was reported today.
The Washington Post said officials at Baghdad's main morgue had logged more than 1,300 deaths since the attack on the al-Askari shrine - one of the holiest sites in Shia Iraq - on Wednesday.

Most of the dead had been shot, knifed or garroted, often with their hands tied execution-style behind their backs, the report said.

It added that the blood-caked bodies of hundreds of men lay unclaimed outside the morgue as distraught families searched for missing relatives yesterday.

Figures from the Iraqi police statistics department put the nationwide toll of violent deaths at 1,020 since the Samarra bombing, with the majority killed after being abducted by armed men.

Iraqi government officials and the US military, however, said the toll was lower and stood at 119 by Saturday. They accused the media of exaggerating the violence between the Sunni and Shia communities.

The acting director of the Baghdad morgue disputed the Washington Post's report. Abdelrazzak al-Obeidi told Reuters that his unit alone had received 240 bodies since Wednesday, nearly all victims of violence.

He said the rate of such killings was 70% above average for the six days since Wednesday, based on a figure of 8,060 deaths from violence recorded at the morgue in 2005 - 155 deaths a week.

Not all Iraqi deaths in Baghdad are recorded in the central morgue, but it sees a high proportion of those who die violently. Other deaths are more typically recorded at hospitals.

by BBC (reposted)
Tuesday Feb 28th, 2006 7:51 AM
At least 35 people have been killed and scores injured by four bomb blasts in Baghdad, a day after a curfew to stop escalating violence was lifted.

In the bloodiest attack, 24 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a petrol station in a Shia district of the city.

Several others died in two car bomb blasts, while five defence ministry staff were killed by a roadside bomb.

The attacks came as the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein resumed.

The former president and seven co-defendants are charged with killing 148 people in the town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt against him.

In other developments:

* The bodies of nine Iraqis, including a Sunni Arab tribal leader, are found, riddled with bullets, in Tarfaya, south of the city of Baquba

* Two British soldiers are killed and another is injured by a roadside bomb on the outskirts of Amara, in southern Iraq

* A US soldier is killed by small-arms fire in the west of Baghdad

* A bomb damages a mosque erected by Saddam Hussein over his father's grave in his hometown of Tikrit.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the latest attacks were an apparently co-ordinated onslaught aimed at killing and injuring as many people as possible.

They come amid growing fears of a slide towards sectarian strife that has gathered momentum sharply since last week's attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra, he adds.

Twin blasts

The first car bomb exploded near a market and the Timimi mosque in the mainly Shia area of Karrada.

The market would have been fairly busy at the time, police said.

by ALJ
Tuesday Feb 28th, 2006 9:03 AM
A series of explosions have rocked Baghdad killing at least 32 people and wounding 80, while another blast damaged the tomb of Saddam Hussein's father.

The blasts came hours before the former leader was due back in court for the first time since a week of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Police said a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was also damaged by a bomb on Tuesday morning.

Police also discovered nine bodies near the religiously mixed city of Baquba, the scene of several sectarian attacks since a suspected al-Qaida bomb destroyed a Shia shrine on Wednesday.

A Reuters photographer counted at least 10 dead bodies after a car exploded on a busy street in central Baghdad, just across the Tigris river from where Saddam is on trial in one of his former palaces.

Two others went off in the east of the city. At least 23 people were killed in one bombing at a petrol station in eastern Baghdad, with 51 wounded, police sources said.

Two British soldiers were killed in Amara, 360km southeast of Baghdad, and US forces reported the death of an American soldier.

A Saddam-era, Soviet-built Iraqi tank guarded a Sunni mosque in west Baghdad and Iraqi and US military patrols were seen around the city.

Overnight curfews remain in force across Iraq.

The dome of the shrine Saddam had erected over his father's grave in the cemetery of his Sunni home town of Tikrit was damaged, local residents said, and windows and doors blown out.

Police and local government officials said explosives planted at the tomb had gone off around 6am (0300 GMT).

Necessary oppression

The former president, who has ended a hunger strike staged in protest at trial conditions, is due in court after a two-week adjournment.

Saddam has justified some of the oppressive policies of his Sunni-dominated rule over three decades as necessary to hold Iraq together amid tensions between the Sunnis and Shia Arabs as well as the ethnic Kurds in the north.

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