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Police say Shiite family of 6 gunned down in Iraq

Police say Shiite family of 6 gunned down in Iraq

A Shiite couple and four of their children were gunned down in their home outside Baghdad on Monday, the latest in a string of attacks that have killed some 70 people since Friday, police said.
The violence is stoking fears that security in Iraq could dissolve as the country's political leaders scramble to secure enough support to form a government after last month's elections failed to produce a clear winner.
Monday's shooting happened around 2:30 p.m. some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, police commander Maj. Aziz al-Amarah said. The gunmen shot four children _ aged 11, 10, 9 and 6 _ and their parents. Two teenage daughters escaped.
"I was with my sister upstairs when three men knocked on the door," 18-year-old Amina told The Associated Press. She said the gunmen asked her father about someone, and he responded that he had no link to him.
She and her 16-year-old sister fled to the next house when the shooting started, Amina said.
The killings come after two other recent bloody attacks.
On Friday, gunmen went house-to-house in a Sunni area south of Baghdad, killing 24 villagers execution-style. Many of the dead were members of the Sons of Iraq, a Sunni group that revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined forces with the U.S. military.
On Sunday, suicide attackers detonated three car bombs near embassies in Baghdad, killing more than 40 people in strikes that Iraqi officials said were intended to disrupt efforts to form a government.
Col. Ben Danner, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said the attacks on Friday and Sunday have no connection to the sectarian bloodshed that plagued Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
"These were not sectarian attacks," Danner told the AP, saying investigations indicate the killings in the Sunni village were part of a revenge attack on those who supported the Iraqi security forces. Sunday's suicide bombings, he said, were a terrorist attack and not sectarian.
There was no known motive in Monday's attack. But many fear such violence and a drawn-out political dispute could complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months. The recent violence also suggests insurgents are trying to regroup in the political vacuum left after the elections.
Nearly a month after the national vote, Iraq still finds itself in a political deadlock.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's secular Iraqiya bloc won two more seats in parliament than the mainly Shiite list of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But both party's are far short of the necessary majority needed to govern alone, which has forced them appeal to other parties in order to garner enough parliamentary support to form a government.
The recent violence also underscores the lingering security challenges the next government will face. After Sunday's blasts, Iraqiya released a statement criticizing al-Maliki for failing to stop terrorist attacks.
Allawi's bid to form the next government received a boost last week when the leader of a major Iranian-linked Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, said he would not join a government that does not include Allawi's Iraqiya, although he did not endorse anybody as prime minister.
Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of SIIC, said Monday he met with a delegation from al-Maliki's bloc a day earlier, although both sides agreed that "more talks are needed to achieve a common view," al-Hakim said in a statement.
Also Monday, an attorney said an Iraqi man convicted in the 2004 kidnapping and slaying of a prominent British aid worker will be retried after he claimed he was out of the country at the time of the killing.
The retrial was scheduled to begin Monday but was postponed until April 18 because officials are still investigating the claim, said Sarmad al-Sarraf, an attorney for the family of Margaret Hassan.
The Irish-born Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi and had lived in the country for 30 years, was among the highest profile figures to fall victim to the wave of kidnappings that swept the country in the early years of the war.
She was seized in October 2004 on her way to work in Baghdad, where she served as director of CARE International in Iraq.
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AP Writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-13 12:41 GMT+08:00