44 Iraqis killed over past two days

Increased attacks by insurgents over the past two days have killed at least 44 Iraqis, including 12 labourers, five of them brothers, who were gunned down at a construction site.In addition, the bodies of eight Iraqis who apparently were kidnapped and killed in captivity, were found in Baghdad, police said.

Meanwhile, the toll among American service members in Iraq was approaching 2,000 dead. At least 1,996 members of the US military have died since March 2003.

Today’s worst attack occurred in the Saydiyah area of south-western Baghdad when suspected insurgents opened fire at two civilian cars, killing three of the municipal workers they were carrying and an Iraqi passer-by, said police Capt. Talib Thamir.

A suicide car bomber killed two Iraqis and wounded five in an attack on a police patrol in the north-eastern neighbourhood of Shaab, where insurgents had kidnapped and murdered a defence lawyer in Saddam Hussein’s trial last week, said police Lt. Malik Sultan.

Insurgents opened fire on an Iraqi army checkpoint in western Baghdad, killing a soldier and a girl who was standing in front of her nearby house, said police 1st. Lt. Thaeir Mahmod.

In two other attacks in the capital, a drive-by shooting killed one policeman and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb, authorities said.

In Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded at 8.30am local time near a car carrying Ibrahim Zangana, a senior member of Iraq’s Kurdish Democratic Party, seriously wounding him, killing one of his bodyguards and injuring another one, said Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir, the commander of Kirkuk’s police force.

A drive-by shooting in Mosul, 225 miles north-west of Baghdad, killed a policeman.

Yesterday, more than 33 Iraqis died in a swell of violence in Iraq, including 12 labourers, five of them brothers, who were gunned down by insurgents at a construction site outside the city of Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, police said.

With high unemployment in Iraq, men often travel long distances from their homes to find jobs as day labourers in cities.

The bodies of eight Iraqis – five men and three women – also were found in three different areas of Baghdad this morning, police said. All of them apparently had been kidnapped, tied up or handcuffed, and shot to death.

Shaab, where the suicide car bomb exploded today, is the area of Baghdad where 10 gunmen wearing police and military uniforms on Thursday kidnapped Sunni Arab Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, one of the defence lawyers in the trial of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and seven former officials from his Sunni-dominated regime.

Al-Janabi – the lawyer for Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former head of Saddam’s Revolutionary Court – was taken from his office in the Shaab area, and hours later his tortured and bullet-ridden body was found on a sidewalk by the Fardous Mosque in the nearby Ur neighbourhood. I.L.