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Execution-Style Killings Continue in Iraq


Police found 12 more bodies dumped in northeast Baghdad overnight, as a wave of execution-style killings of Iraqi men continues. Insurgents appear to be targeting soldiers or men of military age. These are among the most visible collaborators with Iraq's new government, formed in the past three weeks after months of sectarian political wrangling.

The latest discovery was in the Qasr al-Attash neighborhood of Sadr City, a heavily Shi'ite community on the edge of Baghdad. Police say the latest victims were shot dead, suggesting a similarity to other groups of bodies found since the weekend.

On Saturday, Iraqi security forces said they discovered the bodies of 10 Iraqi soldiers in Ramadi, a mainly Sunni city 60 miles west of Baghdad.

Within the next 24 hours, 13 more bodies turned up in East Baghdad, and 11 more were found in Iskandariya, a mostly Shi'ite city south of the capital. Police said the victims, who were all Iraqi men, had been shot in the head.

The victims' identities have yet to be determined. Residents of Shi'ite neighborhoods said they assumed the victims were Shi'ite. However, some Sunni men have also been killed in a similar way before.

The killings - and the dumping of bodies - appear to be aimed at discouraging Iraqi men from joining the expanding security forces, which have taken an increasing role in fighting the insurgency.

The latest discovery came the day after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a one-day visit to Iraq, where she met Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and key members of his new cabinet.

Ms. Rice promised that U.S.-led coalition forces would stay in Iraq until the country is ready to defend itself. She said preparing Iraqi security forces is a high priority.

"Well, the strategy for the transfer of responsibility to the Iraqi security forces is to equip and train the Iraqi security forces as quickly as possible," stated Ms. Rice. "I think that we are all impressed with the progress that the Iraqi security forces are making."

According to Mr. Jaafari, training needs to be accelerated. He said that upgrading Iraqi capabilities will reduce the time that American and other multinational troops need to stay in Iraq.

Ms. Rice said she had also held discussions with Iraq's Minister of Interior Bayan Jaber and Minister of Defense, Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

Mr. Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab sociologist, accepted the defense post after fierce negotiations between Sunni and Shi'ite leaders.

Prime Minister Jaafari wanted an inclusive cabinet and promised the defense post to the Sunnis - a largely disaffected community seen as the main base of support for the insurgency. But he ran into resistance within his own, Shi'ite-dominated parliamentary bloc, with successive Sunni nominees being rejected over their links with the former regime of Saddam Hussein.

Sunni politicians say that a meaningful Sunni political role is the only way to undercut support for the insurgency.

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