Iraq's Sunnis Fear Shiite Militias

A man mourns Ayad al-Izzi, a senior official of Iraq's largest Sunni party, during al-Izzi's funeral in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005. AP

Sunni Muslim civilians are increasingly claiming that men in their families have been abducted and in many cases, tortured and killed, by men they say appeared to be officers of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

According to The New York Times, one of Baghdad's largest mosques has begun collecting data on disappeared Sunnis and so far has the names of 700 men allegedly missing or killed in such incidents within the past four months. The Iraqi Interior Ministry says reports of government involvement are "totally wrong."

"There is no question that bodies are turning up," one human rights investigator told The Times, speaking anonymously, citing safety concerns. "Quite a few have been handcuffed and shot in the back of the head."

There's mounting evidence that as mostly Shiite Iraqi security forces assume a larger role in combating insurgents, they're killing Sunni Muslims, reports CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

"These militias just about rule the night in Baghdad - and the Americans can't stop them, because they can't tell who they are," reports Dozier. "The nighttime death squads usually wear Iraqi uniforms, from their daytime jobs as Iraqi policemen or commandos. As U.S. one commander told us, 'in some neighborhoods, we'd have to arrest more than half the police force.'"

In other developments:

  • A German citizen was likely kidnapped in Iraq, Germany's chancellor said Tuesday, and a television station broadcast photos that appear to show the blindfolded woman with her captors. Susanne Osthoff and her driver have been missing since Friday.

  • The aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams confirmed in a statement Tuesday that four people from the group had been taken hostage on Saturday: Two Canadians, a Briton and an American.

  • At a fund-raiser Monday in Phoenix, President Bush sought to counter calls by some in Congress for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces. "We will stay until the job is done, not a day longer. We will get the job done in Iraq," he declared.

  • But CBS News Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts reports that on Wednesday during a talk at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Mr. Bush will lay the groundwork for a discussion of the drawdown of troops in Iraq.

  • Gunmen in two cars opened fire Tuesday on members of the Assyrian Movement as they hung election posters in Mosul, killing two of them, officials said. The incident was the latest in a series of attacks on politicians and campaign workers in the run-up to the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.

    The tension between the Sunnis - many of whom have been involved in the insurgency - and the Shiites is not new.

    It was reignited by the ouster of Saddam Hussein, whose government favored Sunnis, the installation of the new government, which is dominated by Shiites, and the national elections, coming up on Dec. 15.

    The Shiite militias are becoming the undisputed power behind the throne in Baghdad, reports Dozier. Western diplomats widely acknowledge they are part of the government security services.

    "Sunnis we spoke to are terrified," Dozier says. "There are so many unmarked convoys full of masked men with guns driving around Baghdad, anyway, that it's hard to tell if they are coming for you, or just passing through, until it's too late."
    • Joel Roberts

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