Police found 30 bodies bearing signs of torture Friday, the latest in a wave of sectarian killings sweeping the Iraqi capital despite a monthlong security operation. Iraq has become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world although it has been overshadowed in recent months by other crises in the Middle East, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq said Thursday. "In many parts of the country, insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights, have continued to inflict untold suffering, particularly on innocent civilians, most notably women, children and minorities," Ashraf Qazi told the U.N. Security Council.
A U.S. Marine was killed Friday in Anbar province, and an American soldier was killed Thursday evening by a roadside bomb northwest of Baghdad, the military said. The soldier was the fifth to have died on Thursday, making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces.
In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said a police lieutenant.
Violence has intensified over the past two days, with more than 130 people either killed by attacks or their bodies found dumped in the streets of Baghdad. All the bodies found Friday had signs of torture, and one that washed up on the banks of the Tigris River had been dismembered.
In other developments:
Iraqi Kurds have demanded that the chief judge in the Saddam Hussein trial step down after he told the former president "you were not a dictator" in court. Judge Abdullah al-Amiri already has refused prosecution requests to step down over the comment, which a court spokesman attributed to a "slip of the tongue" on the experienced judge's part.
Shiite politicians, meanwhile, said they had made progress in trying to break a deadlock over legislation to establish autonomous regions as part of an Iraqi federation. Sunni Arabs oppose the bill, fearing it could split Iraq into three sectarian and ethnic cantons. The proposed legislation could be introduced next week.
A spokesman for the Conference of People of Iraq, a prominent Sunni Arab political party, was shot and killed Friday by gunmen, said a party official who did not want to be identified because he fears for his life. The spokesman was also an imam at a mosque in Baghdad and was on his way to conduct prayers at a mosque in Garma, 19 miles outside of Baghdad, when he was killed.
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