Police on Tuesday found the corpses of 22 Iraqi men who had been shot to death in southern Iraq, the government said.
The victims, all dressed in civilian clothes, had been shot in the head and dumped in a deserted area of Badrah district northeast of Kut city and 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Felah Al-Mohammedawi of Iraq's Interior Ministry.
He said most of the bodies were blindfolded with their hands tied together with rope or strips of plastic. Al-Mohammedawi said the victims seemed to have been killed several days ago. Their identities were not immediately known, but the district near the Iranian border is mostly Shiite. Police have blamed many of the insurgency killings on Sunnis.
This mass corpse find follows another, of 36 bodies found outside of Baghdad in a dry riverbed, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan reports. But these men, found blindfolded and executed, were Sunnis — and 16 of them were from one Baghdad street.
Logan reports that these deaths are part of secret, ruthless cleansing of the country's towns and cities — evidence of an undeclared civil war already underway in Iraq, between the Sunni minority who ruled this country under Saddam and the Shiite majority.
Several times over recent months large groups of bodies have been found in several areas of Iraq, including Baghdad. Al-Mohammedawi said the cause of the deaths near Kut would be investigated.
In other developments:A suicide bomber attacked Iraqis applying for jobs as policemen Tuesday in Baqouba, 30 miles north of Baghdad, killing nine and wounding 21.The U.S. military also said a Marine was killed Monday by a roadside bomb in the town of Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad. The death brought to 1,918 the number of U.S. troops who have died since the Iraq war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that Britain would not retreat or withdraw from Iraq, saying that to do so would hand the country over to "the mercy of religious fanatics or relics" of Saddam Hussein. Blair told the Labour Party's annual conference that "8½ million Iraqis showed which future they wanted when they came out and voted in January's elections." Disquiet about Britain's involvement in Iraq has grown since Sept. 19, when rioters in the southern city of Basra attacked British troops with Molotov cocktails when the soldiers tried to rescue two comrades who had been detained by Iraqi police. After a few hours in custody, war demonstrators who joined Cindy Sheehan in Washington, D.C. were released after being slapped with 75 dollar citations for demonstrating without a permit. About 700 other demonstrators prowled the halls of congress looking for face time with legislatures. The protesters who were arrested, including Sheehan, were led away in busses. — They cheered as they passed television cameras. The case against Army Pfc. Lynndie England, the 22-year-old reservist who appeared in photos smirking amid naked prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, now moves to the sentencing phase. It will be heard by the same jury of five male Army officers beginning Tuesday. It was unclear whether England would testify on her own behalf. She faces up to nine years in prison.
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