Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Iraq Around The Clock

Police on Wednesday confirmed the kidnapping of more than 40 Shiites along a notoriously dangerous highway just north of Baghdad, as the death toll from a suicide bombing at a wedding party rose to 23, including nine children.

The abductions on Tuesday near the town of Tarmiyah marked a further outbreak of sectarian violence in a region where scores were killed last month in bloody attacks and reprisal killings among formerly friendly Shiite and Sunni neighbours in the city of Balad.

Unarmed men checked identification cards and seemed to be looking for familiar faces among travellers stopped in heavy traffic, said an eyewitness, who asked to be identified only by the pseudonym Abu Omar for fear of reprisals.

Armed gunmen stood nearby during the abductions, just out of sight of US soldiers who were disarming a roadside bomb further down the road, Abu Omar said. He and other Sunni travellers were allowed to travel onward after showing their ID cards, he said.

At least 40 travellers were missing and feared abducted, said an officer at the Joint Cooperation Centre in the city of Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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