Gunmen kill 3, abduct 20 in Sunni neighborhood
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 10:02 p.m.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen wearing uniforms of a Shiite-led security force swept into a Sunni Arab neighborhood in central Baghdad before dawn Monday, killing three men and speeding away with more than 20 others, police and witnesses said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said seven more U.S. troops had been killed - a soldier in a roadside bombing in Baghdad on Monday, two Air Force members in a blast near Taji north of the capital late Sunday, and four soldiers in a roadside bombing near the northern town of Hawijah on Friday.
There was no word on the fate of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll. Iraqi officials said joint U.S.-Iraqi operations were carried out recently to free her, but they provided no details.
Also Monday, bodies of eight Sunni Arabs were found in a field north of Baghdad - five days after they were seized on their way home by bus after being rejected for admission to the police academy in the capital. Twenty-three bodies of the group were found Sunday, and 35 were believed to have been on the bus. Police are often targeted by insurgents.
The pre-dawn raid in the predominantly Sunni Arab of Toubji threatens to inflame sectarian tensions as leaders of Iraq's religious and ethnic communities prepare for talks on a unity government to include Sunni Arabs, the heart of the insurgency.
Sunni Arabs have long complained of abuse by Shiite militias and security services and have demanded that those responsible be punished.
The raid began about 5 a.m., when seven carloads of gunmen rolled into the neighborhood, witnesses and police said. The gunmen fanned out, entering one mosque and several homes. They dragged males out of their beds and herded them into the street.
Hooded figures, presumably informants, identified those to be taken away, witnesses reported. Three men were shot dead and about 20 were forced into trucks and driven away, witnesses said.
Three men were later freed in eastern Baghdad but the rest remained unaccounted for, witnesses added. One of those released, Yasser Khalil, 24, said he was beaten.
"They took us away and put us into a room in a building I didn't recognize, where they beat us and asked us questions about who we were," he said. "Then they took a few of us in their cars and dumped us on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, saying if we said anything or looked at them they would kill us."
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