Gunmen Kill 21 in Iraq, Many of Them Students

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 4, 2006; 5:59 AM

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq, June 4 -- Gunmen killed 21 people -- many of them high school students -- after dragging them off buses northeast of Baghdad, officials said. Four Sunni Arabs were spared and the dead were all Shiites or Kurds.

Serwan Shokir, the mayor Qara Tappah, said the shooting occurred in the early morning after three mini buses left his town headed for Baqubah -- located 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. One person was wounded.

He said the gunmen dragged 26 people from the buses, separated four Sunni Arabs from the group, and shot the rest.

Shokir said 12 of the dead were high school student and of those killed, 19 were Shiite Turkomen and two were Kurds. The students were headed to another town to take exams.

According to the joint operations center in Baqubah, the incident apparently took place in Ain Laila. The town is between Qara Tappah and Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province -- which in recent weeks has been transformed into a sectarian powder keg.

The four Sunni Arabs who survived were being questioned at Qara Tappah police station.

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