Five Iraqi soldiers murdered on video

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The Independent Online

Militants from a group led by Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, were shown on a video released yesterday slaughtering five men who they said were from the Iraqi National Guard. They threatened others with the same fate.

The footage, posted on the web by the al-Qa'ida Organisation of Holy War in Iraq showed militants standing behind five men in civilian clothes. The men were later lined up and shot repeatedly in the back.

The killings, coming just four weeks before national elections, followed the discovery of two beheaded bodies in Baghdad yesterday. A note left with the bodies, which were bagged and dumped on the street, said they were truck drivers killed for working with the US military.Earlier, the body of an Iraqi guardsman was found near Fallujah with a handwritten note pinned to it saying: "This is the fate of anyone who collaborates with the occupation forces."

Meanwhile, the incessant violence on the streets of Iraq continued. At least three roadside bombs targeted US troops and Iraqi security forces, a day after the Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, made an unusually strong warning to Iraq's neighbours to crack down on insurgents infiltrating from their territory.

Iraqi officials have repeatedly accused Syria and Iran of supporting the insurgents waging a campaign of violence against American forces and Mr Allawi's US-backed government. Both countries have denied helping militants or allowing them to cross their borders into Iraq.

In other attacks, a US marine was killed in action during security operations in the Al Anbar province. A total of 1,329 US military have now been killed since March 2003. Elsewhere, a roadside bomb explosion struck an Iraqi National Guard patrol near Mahmoudiya, a town 25 miles south of Baghdad, leaving one guard dead and six wounded.

Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for a well-co-ordinated attack on Wednesday on a US post in the northern city of Mosul. The US military said one American soldier and 25 insurgents were killed in the battle. The militants, however, claimed they had suffered no casualties.On Friday, a car bomb exploded next to a taxi carrying Iraqi guardsmen in Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad. A passing car absorbed the brunt of the blast, which killed its two occupants while five Guards were wounded. In Samarra US troops came under mortar attack. They opened fire, killing an Iraqi and wounding two.