Gunmen kill Iraqi policeman with four family members

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 07, 2013 5:09 PM

HILLA, Iraq (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen killed a police officer along with four members of his family inside their home in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla late on Sunday, police and medics said.

The attackers, who were driving a private vehicle, broke into the officer's house in the evening, holding him and his mother, wife and two children in one room before shooting them dead, a military source said.

Military personnel, police and their families are prime targets for Sunni insurgent groups including al-Qaeda's Iraqi wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, which see them as tools to support the Shi'ite-led government in its war against them.

"When we arrived after the neighbors called us, we found all the bodies in one room. Each one had many shots in different parts of his or her body," said a military officer who was at the scene and declined to be named.

"The officer got a dozen shots and his body was torn apart."

The attack took place in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, about 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad.

Insurgents have been regaining strength in recent months, recruiting from the country's Sunni minority, which resents Shi'ite domination since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Intercommunal tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighboring Syria, which is increasingly been fought along sectarian lines, drawing in Shi'ite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and elsewhere to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.

The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq in June, according to the United Nations. Violence is still well below the height of sectarian bloodletting in 2006-07, when the monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000.

(Reporting by Ali al-Rubaie; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; editing by Ralph Boulton)