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Sectarian Violence Surges in Baghdad

  • VOA News

Iraqi police say car bombs have struck a Shi'ite mosque in Baghdad after masked Shi'ite gunmen killed at least 42 people in a Sunni Muslim area of the city.

They say the gunmen set up fake checkpoints and also moved through Baghdad's Jihad district, checking identity papers and killing people with typically Sunni names. Some Sunni leaders blamed the rampage on the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Aides to the cleric deny involvement.

After the shooting rampage, two car bombs went off outside a Shi'ite mosque in central Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding more than 38 others.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military says Iraqi government forces killed nine insurgents during a raid in the Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad early Sunday.

And Kuwait's al-Rai television reported three Egyptian construction workers held hostage in Iraq were released on Sunday and crossed into Kuwait.

In another development, a group claiming to be holding a kidnapped Sunni Arab lawmaker has demanded the release of 25 Shi'ites detained by U.S. forces in return for her freedom.

Tayseer al-Mashhadani and seven of her bodyguards were seized July first by gunmen in a Shi'ite area of east Baghdad.

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