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11 Shiite farmers shot dead north of Baghdad

Gunmen killed 11 Shiite farmers north of Baghdad Tuesday, officials said, while a coalition soldier was killed and six were wounded in two separate attacks in Baghdad.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gunmen attacked a group of Shiite farmers north of Baghdad Tuesday, killing 11, including eight members of the same family, and wounding two, officials said. One coalition soldier was killed and six were wounded in two separate attacks in Baghdad.

The gunmen opened fire on the group of farmers in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, shortly before midday Tuesday, police chief Brig. Mohammed al-Baldawi said. Sheik Hussein al-Hayali, the owner of the farm, and seven other members of his family were killed, al-Baldawi said.

Three other people were killed and two wounded, said Dr. Qassim al-Qaisi of Balad Hospital, where the victims were taken. Balad is a religiously mixed area where Shiite-Sunni Arab sectarian violence has flared previously.

Two attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday killed one coalition soldier and wounded six others, the U.S. military said. The military press office said it did not know the nationality of the victims.

Sgt. Stan Lavery said a roadside bomb targeted a military vehicle at 10:30 a.m. in Abu Ghraib, western Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding two others.

About an hour later, another coalition convoy was attacked in the Baghdad’s western Salaam area, wounding four soldiers.

At least 12 Iraqis were wounded in a series of roadside bombings and mortar barrages across Baghdad, and police found the bullet-riddled bodies of eight men in different locations throughout the capital. The identities of the victims were unclear.

Ties to Britain cut
Authorities in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, meanwhile, severed all ties with Britain amid the furor over alleged British military abuse of several Iraqi males in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, two years ago.

British military officials called the Basra decision regrettable. The provincial police chief said all security cooperation and joint patrols with British soldiers were called off throughout the vast southern province.

“Decisions like these and reductions in patrols hinder the process of promoting security and economic reform and merely work to the detriment of the people of Basra,” British military spokesman Capt. James St. John-Price said.

British-Iraqi relations have been strained recently over British arrests of local police linked to killings and kidnappings and British security control over Basra International Airport.

Basra authorities also demanded the 530-member Danish military contingent leave unless the Danish government apologizes for the contentious Prophet Muhammad drawings that appeared in Danish and European newspapers.

Denmark’s Defense Minister Soeren Gade rejected the demand.

“Our foreign policy is not being decided by the provincial council in Basra,” he told reporters in Copenhagen.