2 U.S. Soldiers Among 50 Dead in Iraq

By Robert H. Reid
Associated Press
Sunday, August 13, 2006

BAGHDAD -- Police found a dozen bodies trapped in a grate in the Tigris River, and a roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers on a foot patrol south of Baghdad Saturday as 50 violent deaths were reported across Iraq.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki banned a Kurdish extremist party from operating in Baghdad in a move seen largely as a gesture to Turkey, which had threatened to send troops across the border.

Also Saturday, a state commission said nearly 40 top officials of the past two governments -- including former ministers of defense, labor and electricity -- have been ordered to appear in court to answer allegations of corruption.

The 12 bodies were found in Suwayrah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, at one of a series of metal grates fixed in the river to block debris, a morgue official said. All were men between 35 and 45 years old and had been bound, blindfolded and shot in the head or chest.

They appeared to have been the victims of sectarian death squads that operate in Baghdad's religiously mixed communities.

Police found 15 other bullet-riddled bodies of men who had been handcuffed and blindfolded in six neighborhoods throughout the Baghdad area, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said.

Another 21 people were killed, mostly in Baghdad but also in Hilla, Mosul and Basra.

The roiling violence, especially between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Baghdad area, has alarmed U.S. commanders, prompting them to order nearly 12,000 more U.S. and Iraqi soldiers into the capital.

The United States has about 32,400 troops in Baghdad and areas south of the capital -- of which about 13,500 are in the city, Maj. Gen. James Thurman said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have said the reinforcements will focus on neighborhoods where Sunni residents do not trust the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces.

Nevertheless, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he would not rule out significant U.S. troop reductions this year. Pace arrived in Baghdad on Saturday.

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