Gunmen kill 5 relatives of Sunni fighter in Iraq

AP News
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 6:15 AM
Gunmen kill 5 relatives of Sunni fighter in Iraq

Gunmen wearing military-style uniforms broke into the house of a pro-government Sunni militiaman early on Wednesday and killed five members of his family, including three children, Iraqi officials said.

A police official said the gunmen shot the women and children as they were sleeping in their home in Abu Ghraib, a Sunni-dominated area that used to be a haven for al-Qaida in Iraq.

Seven other family members were wounded in the attack. The militiaman, Hameed al-Zobaie, was not in the house at the time of the attack, the police official said.

A medical official in a nearby hospital confirmed the casualties. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Police said the gunmen likely were targeting al-Zobaie, who is a member of the Iraqi Sahwa, or Awakening Councils. The group joined forces with U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq war to fight al-Qaida. Ever since then, it has been a target for Sunni insurgents who call its members traitors.

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Insurgents have stepped up attacks in Iraq recently as the U.S. military prepares to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.

In an earlier attack, a car bomb exploded near a popular restaurant in a Shiite neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad late on Tuesday night, killing three people and wounding 10 others, police said Wednesday.