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Iraq's Interior Minister Seeks to Quell Sectarian Divisions


Iraq's Interior Minister says he has fired thousands of employees, including some suspected of corruption or human rights violations. Officials hope the purge will rid the police force of militia members blamed for a rising tide of violence in Iraq. Violence left at least 14 people dead across Iraq Saturday.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani says he has fired 3,000 people who work for him, and that some of them may be prosecuted. He says he also is changing some top commanders.

Iraq's Interior Ministry runs the police force, which critics say has been infiltrated by Shi'ite militias.

Earlier this month, a brigade of around 700 policemen, suspected of militia sympathies, was taken out of service and sent back to barracks for retraining.

Militias are thought to be behind much of the sectarian violence between the Shi'ite and Sunni Arab communities. The cycle of violence has taken thousands of lives this year.

Sectarian bloodshed has been intensifying since last February's bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine in Samaara.

On Saturday, two corpses were recovered from the Euphrates River, about 60 kilometers south of Baghdad. A hospital worker said they showed signs of torture.

The worker said one victim was decapitated and the other shot in the head.

In Baghdad, two car bombs exploded, wounding at least two people. Gunmen killed a teacher in the southern city of Diwaniyah.

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