Insurgents slaughtered another 47 Iraqis on Sunday, including 23 members of a small religious minority dragged from a bus and gunned down by the roadside, security officials said. The latest day of carnage came as the United States military said it would press on with plans to wall in Baghdad's worst neighbourhoods despite criticism from residents.
Nearly 400 people have been killed over the past three days in Iraq as insurgents and sectarian militias ripped through a massive United States security crackdown concentrated around Baghdad. A series of coordinated bombings of Shi'ite marketplaces in and north of the capital defied a latest plea from embattled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Iraq sent another of Saddam Hussein's former henchmen to the gallows on Tuesday as the nation marked the fourth anniversary of the United States-led war still battling a raging insurgency and sectarian conflict. Former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan was executed before dawn for crimes against humanity over the killing of 148 Shi'ites in the 1980s.
Killings and attacks in Baghdad have slumped significantly since the launch of a security plan one month ago, United States officials said on Wednesday, even as car bombs claimed more lives in the capital. ''There has been an over 50% reduction in murders and executions'' since Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing Law) began, Major General William Caldwell said.
An Iranian diplomat has been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital, Tehran said on Tuesday, as security forces pressed on with troop deployments in Baghdad ahead of a United States-Iraqi crackdown to curb raging violence. As the troops took up positions in Baghdad, violence continued in Iraq with at least five people killed and four others found murdered, Iraqi security officials said.
Pressure mounted on Monday on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to halt the executions of two of Saddam Hussein's henchmen amid growing international criticism over the way the ousted dictator was hanged. New York-based Human Rights Watch said the executions would further highlight ''the Iraqi government's disturbing disregard for human rights''.
A high-level United States congressional delegation visiting Iraq called on Thursday for between 15Â 000 and 30Â 000 more US troops to be sent to bring stability to the war-torn country. ''The situation is very, very serious. It requires injection of additional troops to control the situation and allow the political process to proceed,'' said Senator John McCain.
A witness at Saddam Hussein's genocide trial in Baghdad described on Monday how he survived the murder of dozens of villagers by Iraqi forces during the 1988 military campaign against the Kurds. The session resumed after a two-week break with witness Taimor Abdallah Rokhzai telling the court how Kurdish villagers were taken out into the desert and shot by soldiers.
Police found dozens of bullet-riddled corpses in Baghdad on Wednesday, and two car bombs killed 28 people and wounded scores more in the Iraqi capital as a wave of sectarian violence ravaged the country. At least 69 bodies were recovered in the past 24 hours from across Iraq, including 64 from Baghdad, many of them shot dead execution-style, security officials said.
Iraq's embattled coalition government was to set up a military headquarters to take command of its armed forces on Saturday, as a report from the Pentagon warned the country is close to civil war. The report painted a sombre picture of a still powerful anti-government insurgency and mounting Sunni-Shi'ite violence.
A Kurdish mother who lost a child to a poison-gas attack on her village nearly two decades ago cursed ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Wednesday, the third day of his trial for genocide. ''May God blind them all,'' cried 45-year-old Adiba Owla Bayez in court, pointing at Saddam and six co-defendants.
Bomb attacks around Baghdad killed at least 19 people and wounded 80 on Tuesday as insurgents defied a security crackdown in the Iraqi capital. The first blast echoed around the city at dawn, when a roadside booby trap ripped open a minibus and a taxi in the downtown Nahda area, killing nine people and wounding eight, an interior ministry official said.