BAGHDAD, Jan 6: The bodies of 18 Iraqis lured by promises of lucrative work from a Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad to Mosul were found on Wednesday in the northern city, an interior ministry source said.
"The men, all from the northern Khadimiya district of Baghdad, were promised lucrative jobs at US bases in Mosul and taken there on Dec 8," said the source. He said the bodies were brought back from Mosul to the Khadimiya hospital.
Mosul has seen intensified violence and clashes between Iraqi and US forces and guerillas since mid-November when the guerillas overran police stations there, prompting the force to quit en masse.
Since early December more than 60 bodies, mostly Iraqi security forces personnel, have been found in the Mosul area after being executed and dumped by guerillas. In other incidents, a leader of the Iraqi communist party, Hadi Saleh, was found strangled in Baghdad, his eyes blindfolded and hands tied with metal twine.
A US soldier was killed during an operation in restive Al Anbar province, while the head of police in the Baghdad district of Sadr City, Abdel Karim, was gunned down in a morning ambush.
Four Iraqi soldiers and three civilians were also killed in separate attacks in the north of the country. A day earlier, three suicide bombings killed 20 people, mostly policemen, taking to over 50 the number of people killed in attacks in the space of just two days. But a chorus of influential voices, including Mr Allawi and US President George Bush, have again rejected growing calls to delay elections because of surging violence and a boycott by Sunni parties.
And the deputy US ground commander in Iraq, Lt Gen Thomas Metz, said guerillas are "thugs" who will not be allowed to stop the elections. "A delay in elections is a wrong thing to do, from a military point of view. It gives thugs and terrorists more time for intimidation," he warned, adding that 14 out of 18 Iraqi provinces were safe enough to hold elections.
At the Taji base, north of Baghdad, the Iraqi army unveiled its new mechanised brigade albeit with refurbished vehicles from the old army under the gaze of Mr Allawi and other ministers.
"Building an army is a long and difficult mission," said Mr Allawi, speaking as Iraq marked national army day. "Iraq has been liberated of Saddam, who turned the army into a tool of repression."
He said guerrillas were targeting Iraqi security forces because they fear an organized and better equipped army. Thursday also saw the disappearance of the Iraqi national guard, a collection of 49 regional paramilitary battalions around the country, which is being incorporated into the New Iraqi Army and structured as nine divisions.
EMERGENCY LAW EXTENDED: Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Thursday extended an emergency law aimed at thwarting violence before the Jan 30 elections and a senior Iranian official.
In a sign of the interim government's determination to go ahead with elections despite the violence and calls for boycott and delay, Mr Allawi extended emergency measures throughout the country except for the northern Kurdish regions.
"Because of the zealous determination by a clutch of terrorists to prevent Iraqis from peacefully participating in the political process we have decided to extend the state of emergency," Mr Allawi said in a statement.
The emergency law was introduced for 60 days on Nov 7, the eve of the US assault on Fallujah. It gives the prime minister the authority to impose curfews, restrict movement between cities and set up around-the-clock courts where the government can go to obtain arrest warrants. Curfews are already in place in Baghdad, Mosul, Baquba and other cities. -AFP