Scores of torture victims' bodies dumped in Baghdad

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The Independent Online

The bodies of 65 men who had been tortured and then shot have been dumped around Baghdad. Meanwhile, two car bombs and two mortar attacks killed at least 32 people and injured dozens of others.

Police said 60 of the bodies were found overnight scattered around Baghdad, with the majority dumped in predominantly Sunni Arab neighbourhoods.

All the bodies were bound, bore signs of torture and had been shot, said police Lt. Thayer Mahmoud.

Such killings are usually the work of death squads, operated by both Sunni Arabs and Shia gangs and militias, who kidnap people and usually torture them with power drills or beat them badly before shooting them.

Of the bodies, 45 were discovered in predominantly Sunni Arab parts of western Baghdad. The rest were found in predominantly Shia areas of eastern Baghdad. Another five bodies were found floating down the Tigris river in Suwayrah, 40 kilometers south of Baghdad, according to police Lt. Mohammed al-Shimari.

In the capital, a car bomb killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 62 after it detonated in a large square used mostly as a parking lot near the main headquarters of Baghdad's traffic police department, police Cap. Mohammed Abdel-Ghani said. At least two of the dead were traffic police officers.

In past years, the square was used to test people trying to get their drivers license.

In eastern Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded next to a passing Iraqi police patrol in the Zayona neighborhood, killing eight people and wounding 17, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said. At least 3 of the dead and 7 of the wounded were police officers.

Two mortar shells landed on al-Rashad police station in southeastern Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding two others, said police 1st Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun.

Another two policemen were killed when two mortar rounds landed near their station in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Mashtal, police Maj. Maher Hamid Mousa said. Three others were injured.

In the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, two pedestrians were killed and two others injured, apparently in a corssfire, when US troops exchanged fire with unidentified gunmen in the city's main market, police Lt. Mohamed Sami said.

Three mortar shells also landed in downtown Baghdad, wounding four civilians, said police 1st Lt. Thayer Mohammed.

The attacks came one day after attacks claimed the lives of at least two dozen people across Iraq.

Baghdad has been the focus of most violence and thousands of US and Iraqi forces are taking part in a security crackdown aimed to curtail some of the killing. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, an average of 51 people a day died violently last month in the capital.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers squabbled over a resolution demanding a timetable for a US troop withdrawal, and others failed to resolve a deadlock over a Shia-sponsored bill that Sunni Arabs fear will carve up the country.

A group of lawmakers tried to take advantage Tuesday of the unpopularity of US troops among many Shia and Sunni legislators to seek approval of a resolution setting a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops — which the mainstream Shia-dominated government has so far refused to do.

Sponsored by supporters of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and some Sunni Arabs, the resolution managed to gather 104 signatures in the 275-member parliament before was effectively shelved by being sent to a committee for review.

That committee will need at least six months to examine the resolution and present its findings to parliament. If and when approved, such a resolution would be binding on the government.

No headway was made on parliament's most contentious issue since it reconvened last week from summer recess: legislation that will set in place the mechanism for establishing autonomous regions as part of a federal Iraq.

Sunni Arabs have said the bill could split the country into three distinct sectarian and ethnic cantons and have vehemently opposed it.

Although federalism is part Iraq's new constitution, and there is already an autonomous Kurdish region in the north, special legislation and a referendum would be needed to turn Iraq into a full federation.

Parliament's biggest political bloc, the Shia United Iraqi Alliance submitted the bill last week. It would be the first step in creating a separate autonomous state in the predominantly Shia south much like the zone run by Kurds in the north.

Objections from Sunni Arabs and an apparent split among Shias led leaders to delay the debate until 19 September.

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