Iraq bombers to be hanged

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The Independent Online

An Iraqi court yesterday sentenced 11 people to death by hanging after convicting them of carrying out the August bombings of two government ministries that killed more than 100 people in the heart of Baghdad.

The attacks – the deadliest in more than 18 months – raised questions about whether Iraqi forces were up to the task of protecting the country, coming less than two months after the US handed over control of security in cities. The swift convictions were announced less than two months before Iraqis vote in a nationwide parliamentary election and came as Iraq is already under heightened security concerns following a crackdown earlier this week that brought parts of Baghdad to a standstill.

Since the August attacks there have been two other massive attacks in Baghdad targeting government buildings, in October and December, that together killed more than 280 and injured hundreds more. The attacks have caused outrage among many Iraqis, who wondered how the bombers could have driven through an area dotted with checkpoints. The defendants have a month to appeal against the death sentences.

Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, the capital's top military spokesman, said those convicted yesterday were the same suspects who were taken into custody shortly after the explosions. He said they have links both to the Baath party, which ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and al-Qa'ida in Iraq.