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IRAQ: Mysterious killings continue to shake Baghdad

September 27, 2010 | 11:58 am

Baghdad’s scourge of mysterious killings continues almost seven months after a national election that has so far failed to produce a government.   Assailants regularly target their victims with silencer pistols or small bombs.  

In the latest such attack, a police officer was gunned down in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Khadra on Monday morning, according to police sources.  On Sunday, gunmen with silencers killed a civil servant from the cabinet. Also killed in other attacks were an official from Iraq’s anti-corruption commission; a lieutenant colonel in the police’s counter-terrorism unit; and an army major, police said. In a separate attack, a state television announcer was wounded when assailants planted a bomb on his car Monday.  Another state television announcer was killed a few weeks ago in a near-identical attack.

Earlier this month, an Iraqi non-governmental organization called the Monitor of Constitutional Freedom and Bill of Rights released a report that said 686 people had been killed this year with silencers. 

The phenomenon has worried Iraqis enough that a representative of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani addressed it in a recent Friday sermon. 

“This way of killing is carried out in a surprise and it doesn’t attract the attention, thus the doer can flee easily,” Sheik Ahmed Saafi told worshippers. “This makes chasing them a big challenge for the security forces.”

Ali Haidari, a security analyst, told the Los Angeles Times  silencers were easy to smuggle around Baghdad. 

“It is difficult for our checkpoints to do something for these silencers ...  because the pistol is hidden in a certain place in the car,” Haidari said.  “They can’t be found, neither by the manual search nor by the detectors, which I think are not working properly.”

-- Raheem Salman and Ned Parker in Baghdad

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