Eighteen found dead in a bus in Iraq

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Eighteen men, ranging in ages from young to elderly, whose bodies were found bound and blindfolded in a minibus in Baghdad, were hanged. "The medical report shows that all of them were hanged," a source at Baghdad's Yarmuk hospital said. "We found a rope round the neck of one of the victims."

A security patrol discovered the minibus just before midnight on the road between the Amiriyah and Khadra districts. The victims, all men, had been handcuffed, blindfolded and either hanged or shot to death, police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said.

Police say they have no clues to the victims' identities. The bodies were found near the Amriya district of western Baghdad — one of the city's most dangerous sections, Abdul-Razzaq said.

Official figures suggest an increase in such killings since the destruction of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra two weeks ago sparked reprisal attacks. Local people have accused the Shiite-led, US-backed government's police and other security forces of abducting and killing Sunni civilians.

The dumping of bodies bearing signs of torture and killed execution-style has become a feature of Iraq's violence between armed factions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad warned that the country is vulnerable to rebels’ attempts to exploit the political situation caused by the shrine attack. "There is a concerted effort to provoke civil war," he said.

Iraq's parliament is expected to sit on Sunday for the first time since the December elections.