18 bodies found in Iraq minibus

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The Independent Online

A US military patrol found 18 bodies in an abandoned minibus in Baghdad early today.

The victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and hanged or shot, police Lieutenant Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said. At least two appeared to be foreign Arabs, he said.

The bus containing the bodies was found on the road between Amiriyah and Khadra, two of Baghdad's most dangerous neighbourhoods.

There was no immediate comment from the US military.

The bodies were taken to Yarmouk Hospital, where Dr Mohanad Jawad confirmed two of the victims had been shot dead and the rest hanged. Their deaths appeared recent, he added.

Police found the bodies of four more men in an open field in Baladiyat, a mixed Sunni-Shia neighbourhood in east Baghdad. The victims had been handcuffed and hanged, police Capt. Mahir Hamad Moussa said, noting the rope marks on their necks.

Another a body, shot in the head, was found near a shop in the eastern Kamaliyah suburb, which has also suffered repeated attacks.

The finds follow a surge of sectarian violence unleashed by the February 22 bombing of a famed Shiite shrine in the central city of Samarra and reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques and clerics.

While sectarian killing has diminished in recent days, other attacks have increased.