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Gunmen slaughtered 25 prostitutes in two Baghdad brothels, Iraqi police said. A nearby shop owner told NBC News that the attackers were wearing Iraqi security service uniforms. “We knew that there were prostitutes in those two apartments,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of reprisals.

Baghdad police confirmed that 25 sex workers had been killed in Saturday's shootings, adding that the attackers left notes claiming the killings were punishment. Iraq is grappling with worsening religious tensions as Sunni fighters who have swept through much of the country are challenging the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The shootings happened after 10 security vehicles carrying what were thought to be extremist Shiite militia members entered the neighborhood in Zayouna in eastern Baghdad, the shopkeeper said. “I thought ISIS fighters were in the area," he said, referring to the Sunni militants who have declared an Islamic state covering parts of Syria and Iraq. "It is easy to pass through checkpoints when you are a militia member since you are driving a government vehicle and carrying a security force ID."


- Yuka Tachibana