Gunmen Execute 47 as Iraq Violence Worsens

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Gunmen Execute 47 as Iraq Violence Worsens


Byline: JOE MURPHY

IRAQ suffered a fresh wave of atrocities today as gunmen pulled dozens of factory workers from buses and executed them in the street.

At least 47 civilians were murdered in daylight after the three buses they were travelling in were stopped at a checkpoint north-east of Baghdad.

The bullet-ridden bodies of the victims - all aged between 20 and 50 and wearing civilian clothing - were found where they were killed behind a brick factory.

The murders were assumed to be either revenge for yesterday's bombing of the Shia Samarra mosque by Sunni insurgents, or a fresh attempt by terrorists to provoke all-out civil war.

As well as the slaughter of the bus passengers, eight Iraqi soldiers were killed by a bomb at a Sunni mosque in Baqouba, and a Dubai-based TV reporter for the Al-Arabyia network was murdered along with two of her crew.

Gunmen posing as police abducted and killed 11 suspected Sunni rebel leaders held in a jail in Basra. In the past 24 hours, 25 people are thought to have been murdered around the southern city, which is in the area covered by British troops.

Tony Blair condemned the mosque attack and its bloody aftermath as an "assault on democracy".

He added: "This was an act of desperation as well as an act of desecration."

The Prime Minister made clear to officials that he believes the golden-domed 1,200-year-old shrine at Samarra was targeted in a cynical attempt to trigger the collapse of Iraq's fledgling elected government. …

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