Gunmen shot dead at least 16 members of a Shiite Muslim family, including women and children, before blowing up their two adjacent homes south of the Iraqi capital overnight, police and medics said.
The attack took place in the town of Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad in a volatile area known as the “triangle of death.”
It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack, but Sunni militants who view Shiites as apostates have been regaining momentum in their insurgency and striking with a ferocity not seen in years.
About 800 Iraqis were killed in August, according to the United Nations, with more than a third of the attacks in Baghdad.
Separately Wednesday, a suicide bomber attacked a police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul, killing five policemen. A roadside bomb also struck a patrol in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, killing five soldiers.
With hugs and hand-holding in a solemn tribute to those killed, the presidents of Germany and France on Wednesday visited a ghost town left after the largest mass killing in Nazi-occupied France nearly seven decades ago.
The trip by German President Joachim Gauck, accompanied by France’s François Hollande, to the southwestern French town of Oradour-sur-Glane was the first by a serving German leader.
On June 10, 1944 — four days after the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy — an SS armored division herded hundreds of civilians into barns and a church, blocked the doors and set the town on fire. A total of 642 people died in the massacre, thought to have been ordered in retaliation for the kidnapping of a German soldier by the French Resistance.
The visit aimed to underscore French-German postwar reconciliation.
— Associated Press
Liberia declines to free jailed editor: Liberia has rejected calls to release an editor jailed last month for reporting on the results of an official graft investigation, in a case international press groups say undermines the commitment of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government to free speech. Rodney Sieh, publisher and editor of the independent newspaper FrontPageAfrica, was arrested Aug. 21 after failing to pay $1.5 million in libel damages awarded to a former agriculture minister; two days later, the paper’s offices were closed.
Vatican removes its Dominican Republic envoy: The Vatican has recalled the papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic as authorities in the Caribbean country investigate rumors of alleged child sex abuse. Spokesman Federico Lombardi said a church investigation is underway of Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, 65, but did not spell out the accusations against the Polish-born prelate.
Egypt’s prison chief dismissed from post: Egypt’s Interior Minister removed the head of the country’s prison authority amid reports he had facilitated meetings among detained Islamists, a security official said. Security and investigative chiefs were also removed in the southern governorate of Minya, where unrest is rife and mobs have attacked government buildings and churches. In an interview with a private television station this week, Mostafa Baz denied the reports, saying they referred to a communal Islamist prayer time.
New Malian president sworn in: Mali’s new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, took the oath of office Wednesday, promising to help unify the country after a rebellion, a coup and an Islamic insurgency plunged the long democratic nation into near ruin. Afterward, Keita thanked the international community for its support in retaking the country’s north from the hands of extremists and vowed to prioritize national unity.
Chinese police say aunt likely gouged out boy’s eyes: Police in the city of Linfen, in northern Shanxi province, said that they suspect that the woman who gouged out a 6-year-old boy’s eyes last month was his aunt who killed herself six days later by jumping into a well. They confirmed state media reports that his blood had been found on her clothes. The boy is recovering in a hospital but is not expected to regain his sight.
Dead fish in China blamed on ammonia runoff: Authorities have scooped up 220,000 pounds of dead fish in central China’s Fuhe River that they say were poisoned by ammonia from a chemical plant, environmental officials said, in a reminder of the pollution plaguing the country.
— From news services