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Bodies of 50 men are found in village near Baghdad city
Ethnic tensions flaring in Iraq
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Kurdish peshmerga fighters wounded in fighting with al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants recover in a hospital Wednesday in Irbil, a city in the Kurdish-controlled north, 217 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BAGHDAD (AP) — The ethnic and sectarian tensions that threaten to tear Iraq apart flared Wednesday as the prime minister accused the Kurdish self-rule region of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country, and 50 bodies were discovered dumped in a village south of Baghdad.

It was not clear who the men were or why they were killed, but such grisly scenes were common during the darkest days of the Iraq war, and the deaths raised fears of another round of sectarian bloodletting. Many of the victims were bound, blindfolded and shot in the head.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s allegations, made in his weekly address Al-Maliki provided no evidence to back up his claims, and there is no indication that Baathists or Islamic extremists are operating openly out of Irbil.

But tribal sheiks who oppose the central government whose fighters are battling the military have found refuge in the Kurdish capital.

One of the anti-al-Maliki sheiks, Abdul Razzaq al-Shammari, told The Associated Press that “Kurdistan is not hosting any terrorists — though there are people here who stand against the Iraqi political regime.”

The militant offensive has dramatically raised tensions between the country’s Shiite Arab majority and Sunni minority, and the discovery of the 50 bodies raised the specter of sectarian massacres.

The bodies were found in the predominantly Shiite village of Khamissiya, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim.


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