Da The Washington Post del 15/10/2006
Originale su http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/15/AR2006...

Revenge attacks grip town north of Baghdad

di Ibon Villelabeitia

BAGHDAD - Shouting for revenge after the slaying of 14 Shi'ite workers, black-clad militias killed at least 31 people in a spasm of sectarian violence in a town north of Baghdad, police, doctors and local residents said on Sunday.

Iraq has been gripped by sectarian violence between Muslim Shi'ites and Sunnis since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in February. Thousands have been killed in tit-for-tat revenge killings and more than 300,000 have fled their homes.

In an open letter dictated to his chief lawyer Khalil Dulaimi during a four-hour meeting on Saturday in his prison, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to put aside differences and set only one goal - to drive out U.S. troops.

"Victory is at hand but don't forget that your near-term goal is confined to liberating your country from the forces of occupation," Saddam said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Sunday.

The sectarian killings in the town of Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad over the weekend, left a grisly trail of mutilated bodies.

Militiamen riding in pick-up trucks set up roadblocks on Saturday, stopping vehicles and checking IDs in response to the killing of the workers, whose bodies were found on Friday in an orchard with their throats slit and hands and legs bound.

Some of the bodies brought to the hospital in the last 24 hours were mutilated and bore signs of torture from what appeared to be reprisal sectarian attacks across Balad, a mostly Shi'ite town surrounded by Sunni areas.

Qasim al-Qaisi, head of Balad hospital, said most of the bullet-riddled bodies were Sunni Arab men. The Shi'ite laborers, who were from Balad, were found in nearby Dhuluiya, a mostly Sunni town across the Tigris River.

"We are preparing ourselves to receive more bodies as long as the situation can get worse," Qaisi told Reuters. "Sectarian killing is sweeping the area."


U.S. SOLDIERS KILLED

There was also violence in the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Sunday, where four car bombs, three of them detonated in suicide attacks, exploded in quick succession, killing 10 people and emptying the streets.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad and two U.S. Marines were killed in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said, adding to a toll that, at the current pace, could make October the deadliest month for U.S. forces since January 2005. Nearly 60 have been killed so far.

U.S. commanders have attributed the recent rise in deaths to a surge in violence during the holy month of Ramadan and to more aggressive U.S. operations in Baghdad against sectarian death squads.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, struggling to contain soaring communal violence that threatens to plunge Iraq into civil war, used the one-year anniversary of a referendum for a U.S.-backed constitution to renew a pledge to disband militias.

U.S. officials say militias pose a graver danger to Iraq's survival than a three-year old Sunni insurgency. But disbanding them is delicate because they are tied to political parties.

"The government is determined to disband the militias. Weapons should be only in the hands of the government," Maliki said during a nationally televised speech.


SADDAM VERDICT DATE

A judge trying Saddam for the killing of 148 Shi'ite villagers in the 1980s will set a date on Monday for a verdict in a case that carries the maximum penalty of death by hanging.

"The judge needs to review procedural and administrative issues and set a final date to announce the verdict," chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi told Reuters on Sunday.

"The verdict is not tomorrow. There will be no defendants, no lawyers. I think the verdict will be 20 days from tomorrow."
Annotazioni − Additional reporting by Aseel Kami and Ross Colvin in Baghdad and Suleiman al Khalidi in Amman.

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