By Associated Press Writer
updated 9/28/2006 12:20:35 PM ET 2006-09-28T16:20:35

The bodies of 40 men, more apparent victims of sectarian death squads, have been found in Baghdad over the past 24 hours, Iraqi police said Thursday.

Meantime, a car bomb killed five people and wounded another 34 after it exploded near a restaurant in central Baghdad, police said. Other bombing and shootings killed at least 21 people in and around the capital.

All of the bodies found in Baghdad showed signs of torture, had been shot, and had their hands and feet bound, police Lt. Thayer Mahmoud said.

They were dumped in several neighborhoods in both eastern and western Baghdad, he said.

The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, on Wednesday said murders and executions are currently the number one cause of civilian deaths in Baghdad. Much of the violence has been attributed to death squads, many of which are thought to be offshoots of mainly Shiite militias.

He added that there had been a spike in violence in Baghdad with the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which officially began on Monday, and that suicide attacks were at their highest level ever.

"This has been a tough week," he said.

Restaurant bomb
The car bomb exploded at noon near the Abu Tibeekh restaurant in Sadoun Street in central Baghdad. Many of the injured had serious burns and some were not expected to survive, police Lt. Ali Mohsen said at the Kindi Hospital.

Although the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is under way, some Iraqis — including Iraqi Christians — are not abstaining from eating meals during daytime hours.

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and 10 more injured when a suicide car bomb slammed into a checkpoint in northeast Baghdad, police said.

The attack came in the Shaab neighborhood, one that just been cleared by U.S. and Iraqi troops as part of the Operation Together Forward security drive in the capital.

Gunmen killed seven people, including five policemen and a woman, in different locations in the province of Diyala just north of Baghdad, police said.

The included two police and a woman who were killed in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The two policemen were brothers. Another three officers and his brother were killed in the city of Baqouba.

A shootout between Iraqi soldiers and a truckload of gunmen resulted in the death of six militants southwest of Baghdad, said Col. Khalil al-Zawbaey, spokesman for the 2nd Brigade.

In other violence:

  • A child was killed in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora when a mortar shell landed on a house, police said.
  • Seven policemen and three Iraqi Interior Ministry special forces were injured in three different bomb attacks in the capital.
  • Southwest of Samarra, a city 60 miles north of Baghdad, an oil pipeline was blown up and caught fire, police said. The pipe connected refineries in Beiji and Baghdad.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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