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New Iraq Violence Leaves at Least 17 Dead

March 10, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Bombings and shootings Friday killed at least 17 people around Iraq on Friday. A suicide truck bomb ripped through a line of vehicles waiting at a checkpoint Friday in Fallujah, killing at least seven civilians.

Authorities in the capital discovered the bodies of six men who were blindfolded, handcuffed and shot in the back of the head, police said.

Car bombs killed three people in Samarra, where an attack on a Shiite shrine last month ignited nearly two weeks of sectarian violence.

A bomb hit a U.S. tank in east Baghdad, setting it afire and blowing off the treads, police said. The American military said the M1A2 Abrams tank hit a roadside bomb and the crew escaped unharmed.

A policeman in Tikrit died disarming a roadside bomb when a second explosive device detonated, also wounding two others.

In Samarra, where a Feb. 22 mosque bombing of a Shiite shrine ignited violence that killed about 500 people, two car bombs killed three people, including the imam at a Sunni Muslim mosque, and wounded five, police said. One bomb targeted police but killed a civilian. The other bomb, near the Sunni Qiba mosque, killed the preacher and another person.

In the Fallujah attack, the bomber detonated his explosives as large numbers of cars were waiting to pass through the security checkpoint going into the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, said police Lt. Mohammed Taha. Two of the wounded were police.

The six corpses were found in two suburbs east of Baghdad, said police Capt. Maher Hammad Mousa. Four of them, men between the ages of 30 and 35, were found on the street in the Fudhailiya suburb shortly after dawn. The other two, men between the ages of 40 and 45, were discovered in the Kamaliya region shortly afterward. None of the bodies bore identification.

The developments came a day after the U.S. military said it planned to start moving thousands of detainees out of Abu Ghraib prison to a new lockup near the Baghdad airport within three months. The plan calls for the notorious facility to be handed back to Iraqi authorities as soon as possible.

Abu Ghraib had become perhaps the most infamous prison in the world, known as the site where U.S. soldiers abused some Iraqi detainees and, earlier, for its torture chambers during Saddam Hussein’s rule.

The sprawling facility on the western outskirts of Baghdad will be turned over to Iraqi authorities once the prisoner transfer to Camp Cropper and other U.S. military prisons in the country is finished. The process will take several months, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

Abu Ghraib houses 4,537 of the 14,589 detainees held by the U.S. military in the country. Iraqi authorities also hold prisoners at Abu Ghraib, although it is not known how many.

The U.S. government initially spoke of tearing down Abu Ghraib after it became a symbol of the scandal. Widely publicized photographs of prisoner abuse by American military guards and interrogators led to intense global criticism of the U.S. war in Iraq and helped fuel the Sunni Arab insurgency.

But Abu Ghraib was kept in service after the Iraqi government, which does not have the money to build new jails, objected. Planning for the new facility at Camp Cropper began in 2004, Johnson said.

The Iraqi Cabinet said Thursday that it hanged 13 insurgents, the first executions of militants since Saddam’s ouster.

The announcement listed the name of only one of those hanged, Shukair Farid, a former policeman in the northern city of Mosul, who allegedly confessed he had worked with Syrian foreign fighters to enlist fellow Iraqis to kill police and civilians.

``The competent authorities have today carried out the death sentences of 13 terrorists,″ the Cabinet announcement said.

Farid had ``confessed that foreigners recruited him to spread the fear through killings and abductions,″ the government said.

A judicial official said the death sentences were handed down in separate trials and were carried out in Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing insurgent retribution.

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