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Nov 3, 2014 11:18 AM

Islamic State mass killings now target Iraqi tribe

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) Islamic State group militants publicly shot dead 36 Sunni tribesmen, women and children Monday, an Iraqi official and a tribal leader said, pushing the total number of members slain by the extremists in recent days to more than 200.

Sheik Naim al-Gaoud, a senior figure in the Al Bu Nimr tribe, said the militant group killed 29 men, four women and three children, lining them up in in the village of Ras al-Maa, north of Ramadi in Anbar province. He said the extremists shot each of them dead one by one.

The tribal leader warned that 120 families were still trapped there.

"These massacres will be repeated in the coming days unless the government and its security forces help the trapped people," al-Gaoud said.

An official with the Anbar governor's office corroborated the account of Monday's killings. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief journalists.

Some Sunnis in Anbar province supported the militants when they seized Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in December. That came after widespread Sunnis protests against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad for what they described as second-class treatment.

These recent slayings, all committed in public, raise the death toll suffered by the Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent days at the hands of the Islamic State group to at least 214 tribal members killed.

Analysts believe the Islamic State group may be trying to take revenge for the tribe siding with the American forces in the past, as well as Iraqi security forces. The killings also likely will terrify other Sunni tribes that would think of resisting the militants.

Since the Islamic State group's offensive, a number of Iraq's Sunni tribes have been fundamental in stalling its advance, taking up arms and fighting alongside Iraqi security forces. A U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes is targeting the group as well, with nine strikes hitting its fighters Sunday and Monday in Beiji, Fallujah and Ar Rutbah, U.S. Central Command said.

Meanwhile Monday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for two bombings on Shiite pilgrims that left 23 people dead in Baghdad a day earlier.

In a statement posted online late Sunday, the group said the car bomb attacks happened despite the tight security measures amid the Shiites' "biggest infidel event."

The two attacks Sunday targeted Shiite pilgrims and the roadside tents serving them on their way to the holy city of Karbala to mark Ashoura.

Ashoura commemorates the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and an iconic martyr among Shiite Muslims. Sunni insurgents frequently target Shiites, who they consider heretics.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the reported massacres of the Al Bu Nimr tribe and other attacks on Shiite pilgrims observing the annual holiday of Ashoura "proves once again that ISIL does not represent anything but its warped ideology," using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group.

The attacks provide "more evidence, if any were needed, why our coalition partners, including Iraqis from every background, must work together to defeat these terrorists," Psaki said Monday.

Also Monday, police said a bomb struck a group of Shiite pilgrims, killing five people and wounding 11 in Baghdad's southwestern suburb of Nahrawan.

Another a bomb blast on a commercial street killed three people and wounded 11 others in Baghdad's western district of Amil, police said. In the western suburbs of Baghdad, police said a roadside bomb blast struck an army patrol, killing two soldiers.

At night, police said three mortars landed on the edge of Baghdad's district of Khazimiyah, where thousands of Shiite pilgrims are converging to mark Ashoura in the capital, killing five people, including some pilgrims, and wounding 17.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures from the attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.


Associated Press writer Lara Jakes in Washington contributed to this report.


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